I never get out to see plays. Ever. In fact, I really am not much of a theatre-going gal. If I attempt to get out of the house, it’s usually for a rock show. But I had been hearing abou shAme at King King for a few weeks, and, well, it IS a rock show–in a way–so I decided to risk it.
Why, you may ask, was it an iffy proposition?
Because shAme is a rock opera.
A rock opera of The Scarlet Letter.
Yeah. The droning, oppressively symbolic gothic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, from the mid-1800s.
It coulda been lame. It coulda been all sorts of wrong. Let me just say: It effing RAWKED.
More behind the jump!
So King King has often hosted genre-bending theatre efforts: the Bukowskical, Tick Tick Boom, Taking the Jesus Pill…none of which I ever bestirred myself to see. All of which I *should have* seen. But I was really skeptical of this one: what to expect?! I had disturbing visions of cock-rocking guitar solos and smoke machines with seizure-inducing colored lights flashing over a big-haired Hester in leather pants. Surely, this would be a trainwreck.
But it would be a fantastic trainwreck. I mean, come on! It’s the Scarlet freakin’ Letter! If it was bad, it would be awesomely, fabulously bad, and if it were good, well…I had no idea what it would mean if it were good.
The audience didn’t know what to expect either. As the lights came down and the chorus entered with their blues-rock riff that set the scene for the time, tone and place of the story, we were bemused. Was this bad? Was this good? It was hard to tell.
But then the show leveled out–or maybe we got acclimated to the style. Cue Hester (Katrina Lenk) and her humiliation, the tormented clergyman Dimsdale (Mark Luna), and–stealing the show–the vengeful, hilarious, swaggering Chillingworth (Danny Shorago). Impressively walking the fence JUST short of camp, the show managed to stay away from descending into wholesale cheese and somehow, someway, won me over with its earnest acting and lyrics.
It also doesn’t hurt that much of the cast is easy on the eyes.
As we left, my friend mentioned to me that “I went in wanting to critique every aspect of it–but I can’t help it. It’s just awesome.” Right on.
You better go soon. The run ends on the 16th. And then you will have missed the awesome.