Arts & Events

Theater Review: Beardo, at Shotgun

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 03:04:00 PM

Beardo, Jason Craig's (Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage—A Songplay) latest at Shotgun, with splendid music (Slavic Country Swing?) by Dave Malloy—played by an augmented string quartet among the birches (Lisa Clark's set) and directed by Shotgun founder Patrick Dooley—who's assembled a team that's given the show unusually high production values (especially Christine Crook's costumes and Michael Palumbo's lighting) slips half-drunkenly over and over between two stools that rascal Rasputin balances his backside on: musical comedy burlesque and a deadpan conceptual put-on. 

Of similar formula to Beowulf, Beardo opens with the cheeky—and randy—schlemiel hero (Ashkon Davaron), who renders all he entices into schlamazels, caught with his hand in a hole, and closes with his humiliating reign of verbal and sexual terror over the effete Czar's court brought to term with a drawn-out assassination by tutu-clad singing boyars that bring the recreant to earth again. (One memorable line points out the difference between dirt and earth, at least to a Slavist.) The best, most suggestive moments are a kind of Cat Stevens-ish folksong, but about "covering my back," and the epilogue, a voice-over of a father punishing his "bad" son, reminiscent of the voice-overs of scarred childhood memory in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom—-though they would've been more effective at the start, and followed out more. 

Meanwhile, there's some spirited farceur work by members of the very big, Russian chorus-ridden cast (in particular, Anna Ishida as the fed-up "Czarissa") and much cavorting with a Faberge' dildo. 

Beardo and his dog act may be lovable, but ain't shaggy enough. It's a little bit like Springtime for Hitler without Dick Shawn. As with Rasputin's assassination, if the shots hit the mark, the subject still didn't expire on cue.