Thursday, August 25, 2016

Backyard’s “Gutenberg” a fast and furious bio on the press (printing that is).

If you’re looking for zany, look no further than Backyard Renaissance’s madcap takeoff on the Anthony King/Scott Brown “Gutenburg! The Musical” played full throttle by Tom Zohar and Anthony Methvin now up on stage at Diversionary Theatre through Sept. 4th. It might even be a great way to celebrate Labor Day and far from the madding political circus seen on T.V. 24/7. Truth be told, the Gutenberg Circus is much more entertaining than what is seen on TV these days and won’t cause ulcers. It might cause some head scratching, but no ulcers.

So you want to write a play and you need producers to finance it? You want to put that play on Broadway? Look no farther. Some (Producers) might be sitting right next to you at Diversionary Theatre as Bud Davenport (Thom Zohar) and Doug Simon (Anthony Methvin) run through a series of over the top scenarios about how and why the Gutenberg printing press was invented.

Thom and Anthony
B&D “We’ve written an exciting new show, and tonight we want to present it for the first time. But hopefully not the last time. With any luck we’re hoping to take our show to Broadway! Chances are, if you don’t know the person sitting beside you-they’re probably a Broadway producer”.

If you want to write about a little known subject like Johann Gutenberg who just happened to invent the printing press and then went on to print Bibles (what else?) just Google it and there you will find very little. Could you use your own imagination and write your own Historical Fiction and make up your own story? Why not.

If that’s the case just veer off and write about Gutenberg the wine press owner from Schlimmer whose curiosity about illiteracy, sort of kind of leads us down the primrose path to Gutenberg the inventor of the printing press.

Let’s start off with a wine press, a font /gal named Helvetica (Zohar), a piano player named Charles, a collection of baseball caps with different names on each signifying which character Bud or Doug is playing, say WOMAN, BOOTBLACK, DRUNK 1 & 2 and GERMANS HATE JEWS, ANTI-SEMITE and MONK whose the bad guy.

Thom and Anthony
Yes there has to be some reference to the Holocaust because the play is set in Germany even though Gutenberg was born around 1400?  And if that sounds like who’s on first, that one is easy to figure out. But Gutenberg The Musical, hold on to your hats!

What happens is madcap, sabotage -like the Monk in the church does not want anyone else reading beside himself so he plots to destroy the press, (printing that is) -and over the top, hat changing acting with lots of hard work and great chemistry by both Methvin and Zohar who are a couple in real life. A love interest that ends up in jail with rats, vermin and poop, go figure, is one of the few characters that flows pretty much throughout with the story.

Between t Methvin and Zohar they play about thirty characters (that means hat changes) and sing about ten not so great songs: “The Press Song” “Stop The Press” “Tomorrow is Tonight”, “Words, Words Words”, Monk With Me”, “Might As Well Go to Hell” and “Festival”. Both move about the Diversionary space designed by Jessica and Fran Gercke, with ease.

Backyard Renaissance Theatre, the baby of Jessica John Gercke and Francis Gercke are the presenter’s, musical director Lyndon Pugeda (who takes selfie’s when he’s not playing the piano) and Kim Strassburger directs this little known tongue in cheek piece with glee at Diversionary through Sept. 4th.  

Anthony and Thom
“Gutenberg The Musical” started off as a 45 minute one act and ran for over a year at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre in New York. In 2006 it was premiered as a two- acts. In 2008 it finally made its way to the West Coast premiering in Seattle and in 2009 made its international debut Sydney, Australia. 

If 'Gutenberg' has another life on this planet, it could use some serious cutting, “Dead Baby” for instance, and the Jewish angle that seems to be way out of place, could go. I’m in favor of a one-act.  Sorry folks, all that work and all that talent, and they worked damn hard, could be put to better use or maybe yours truly missed the inside joke and it bypassed my tickle bone. We’ve already seen “The Producers” let’s shoot for something else.   

See you at the theatre.

 Dates: Through Sept. 4th
Organization: Backyard Renaissance
Phone: 619-220-0097
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 4545 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
Ticket Prices: $30.00
Venue: Diversionary Theatre

Credit all photos to Studio B Photo Productions

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