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The Farce Awakens (Healdsburg)

According to IMDB, the budget for 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was an estimated $245,000,000.00. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here in saying the budget for the Redwood Theatre Company’s production of Brittany Law’s original musical parody The Farce Awakens was about 1/245,000,000th of that. Cardboard sets, Super Soakers for ray guns, and a droid costume consisting of an oversized t-shirt and a bike helmet equal a show with production values that would make Edward D. Wood, Jr. blush.

Isiah Carter, Brittany Law, Kot Takahashi

And yet there’s something charming about making due with the resources at hand, so playwright/composer/ assistant director/dance choreographer/costume, set & prop designer Law joined with RTC’s Artistic Director/stage director/dance & fight choreographer Kot Takahashi to bring her creation to life on the quaint and comfortable Redwood Theatre Company stage in the heart of an industrial park in Healdsburg.

Law’s script follows the screen story of the search for the long-lost Luke Skywalker while battling the villainous ‘First Order’ but manages to chop the film’s 126 minutes down to about 75 while adding 14 GarageBand-composed songs to the mix. All your main characters are there – Rey (Ms. Law), Poe Dameron (Mr. Takahashi), Finn (Isiah Carter), Kylo Ren (Ezra Hernandez), BB8 (Adriano Brown), Teedo (Griffin Tatum) as well as Han (Brett Mollard), Chewie (Alex Jimenez), Luke (Alex Sterling) and Leia (Shawna Jackson). Most of the cast fill in for various other roles from General Hux to a Rockettes-like kick line of dancing stormtroopers. The ensemble also has two members, Mathew Gravel and Jasmine Capriotti, from the Alchemia Arts program which supports adults with developmental disabilities through artistic expression. They all seem to be having a blast and their affection for the material is evident.

Ezra Hernandez, Brittany Law

I don’t know how they are able to sing with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, but they do and often quite well. Ms. Law and Mr. Hernandez are trained singers and did best with Ms. Law’s often clever compositions. With titles like “New Best Friend”, “Darth Inside of Me”, and “Totally Brand-New Cantina”, the challenge was often not just to sing, but to do it with a straight face. The cast managed to do that – mostly.

It helps to know the canon of Star Wars, as there are plenty of references and in-jokes that mighty fly over the heads of the unaware. No matter, as there are plenty of other things at which to laugh. Comedic props to Adriano Brown for managing to be more than a sight gag with his BB8. Kot Takahashi’s overplaying (appropriately) as Poe is balanced out by Isiah Carter’s underplaying as Finn. Together, you might say they’re ham and wry. Brett Mollard and Alex Jimenez’s Han and Chewie played like the space equivalent of Laurel and Hardy (though I don’t expect any of their generation to get that reference.).

Look, we’re not talking Shakespeare or Arthur Miller or even Ken Ludwig here. What we have is a group of talented young performers having fun with something that’s a pop cultural reference point for them. I may not be a member of the cult of Star Wars, but I find this company’s energy and enthusiasm for what they are doing infectious. I found myself smiling frequently at the silliness happening on-stage. The all-ages audience was certainly with them. They were there to have a good time.

They got it.

The Farce Awakens

presented by the Redwood Theatre Company 

through August 13

Fri & Sat @ 7:30pm, Sun @ 2pm

* Admission is free but space is limited. Donations are appreciated. *

Redwood Theatre Company
440 Moore Ln
Healdsburg, CA

www.redwoodtheatrecompany.com

Photos by RTC

About the Author

Harry DukeHarry Duke is an actor, director, teacher, and theatre critic whose reviews can be seen online at the For All Events website and in print in the Sonoma County Gazette. He can also be heard weekly on KSRO's "The Drive with Steve Jaxon" and KRCB's "Second Row Center". He holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Sonoma State University where he graduated magna cum laude. He is an active member of the San Francisco Bay Area theatre community and has appeared in an average of three shows a year for the past several years. He has been seen on stage in roles as varied as Pozzo in Waiting for Godot to Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors. He is also the Senior Arts and Entertainment Editor for The Worst Show on the Web, a popular podcast and entertainment site where his musings on the current state of film, television and pop culture can be found.View all posts by Harry Duke →