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Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage

Long the province of soul-deadening scholarship and the occasional terrible action movie (not just a computer-animated Ray Winstone but Gerard Butler and Christopher Lambert have had a crack at the role in recent years), the Old English epic poem Beowulf was given a thunderous new injection of new energy in Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, the raucous song-play Shotgun commissioned from the bicoastal ensemble Banana Bag & Bodice. Everything about the show was a treat: Dave Malloy's cabaret-infused music, the go-go-dancing battle scenes, a hysterical script by Jason Craig (who also played Beowulf) pitting the legendary hero against three inane scholars who double as Grendel and the other monsters, and an innovative staging that depicted an underwater battle by splashing around in fishtanks. The world premiere production closed just this weekend, and it's slated to play again in New York in March.

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