Saucy Jacks and the Space Vixens: A Ripping Good Time Marred by Technical Problems
A Review By H. G. Welch
Equal parts sex comedy, cabaret, murder mystery and disco, Saucy Jack is SRO Production's latest musical at the Obsidian Theatre. Resembling the love child of the Rocky Horror Show and David Bowie's Space Odyssey, and featuring a cast festooned in leather, latex, glitter and even a bubble wrap trench coat, the show is a sensual explosion of sights and sounds. However poor stage layout and uneven sound effects distract from the overall performance.
The play itself is playfully stacked with raunch and innuendo. With characters named Wilhem von Whackoff, Vulva Savannah, Chesty Prospects and Jubilee Climax you know what kind of play this is going to be. The play itself is often funny, the audience was in stitches numerous times in the performance. You have multiple subplots going on at the same time, but none distract too much from the plot. A psychoanalyst, also serving part time as the narrator, tries to seduce the bartender while the waitress and saxophonist aspire to greater aspirations than working in a seedy dive bar. The plot is set fully in motion when the long promised space vixens show up halfway through the first act.
The problem with the play comes from two different issues, the poor design of the stage and the uneven sound levels that have an unfortunate tendency to drown out the singers. The stage is comprised of risers connected to a single runway reaching into the audience with a stripper pole at the end of it. The pole has a bad habit of blocking the view to much of the action depending on where you're sitting, The runways itself can barely handle two actors standing abreast, which greatly restricts their movement. SRO is renowned for their elaborate dance numbers, but they were crippled by the small space they gave themselves to work with. The sound levels were another factor, while the actors sang their chorus over the music much of the lyrics were lost as the music drowned out voices. I had no idea what Bunny was singing during Glitter Boots Saved My Life.
Individually Bryan Kaplun draws all eyes to him as the murderous Jack De'Ath, an obviously stand in for Jack the Ripper. He is deliciously evil, only needing a long mustache to twirl to complete his appearance. Zachary Givens plays the oblivious bartender Mitch and had the audience in stitches when his number came up, impressing the crowd with his ability to work the pole. The three space vixens, played by Faith Fossett, Chaney Moore, and Ragan Richardson had all eyes on them during most of their time on stage, as the focus changed to them once they made their entrance.
The most important question of course to any performance is does the audience enjoy themselves. For the most part yes, the technical issues did not stop the applause or the laughter. People were waving their hands in the air, clapping along with the music and even holding up a cigarette lighter during Jack's swan song. Some people were leaning to one side or another to get a better view unobscured by either the pole or just poor placement of actors, but that could easily be fixed by a change in the floor layout. Aside from the undersized stage, the biggest issues of the play are solved by adjusting the volume or the floor layout. There were people sitting in the middle of the stage along the runway who seemed to be having the time of their lives, so while that layout was unorthodox it looked like a blast for the couples sitting there.
While not a masterpiece, it was enjoyable and it drew the crowd into its more spirited numbers. It will leave you singing along with the chorus, even if you can't make out the lyrics. Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens plays through August 5 at the Obsidian Theatre at 3522 White Oak. Call 832-889-7837 or visit obsidiantheater.org for more information.
Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens was born at the famed Internation Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, enjoyed numerous awards and has celebrated runs all over the world. Obsidian Theater and the award winning team that brought you American Idiot, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Silence! The Musical and Passing Strange brings this glam-disco-cyberpunk pageant to the heart of the Houston Heights.
Directed by Chris Patton
Stage Managed by Lauren Hainley and Kacie Adams
Choreographed by Eric Dano
Musical Direction by Faith Fossett
Set Design by Hiram Olvera
Lighting Design by Kiara Steelhammer
Costume Design by Rachel Landon
Saucy Jack: - Bryan Kaplun
Jubilee Climax: - Chaney Moore
Anna Labia: Elizabeth Tinder
Bunny Lingus: Ragan Richardson
Mitch Maypole: Zachary Givens
Sammy Sax: Taelon Stonecipher
Booby Shevalle: Scott Lupton
Vulva Savannah/Shirley Tri-Star/Chesty Prospects: Angela Pinina Harkins
Dr. Von Whackoff: Calvin Hudson