Conventional wisdom has it that the young folks who constitute Impact Theatre's demographic (mostly aged 18 to 35, according to the company) would rather watch TV than go see live theater. With Money & Run, they no longer have to choose. A pitch-perfect parody of schlocky TV action shows complete with opening credits and a "previously on Money & Run" montage, this serial wraps up Impact's first season as resident company in the basement of La Val's pizza parlor with a bang -- and also a pow, biff, and zowie. Wayne Rawley's creation debuted at Seattle's Theatre Schmeater in 1999 and reportedly has at least three other episodes and two holiday specials beyond the three chapters now making their non-Seattle debut: episode one plays on Thursdays, part two on Fridays, and the party of the third part on Saturdays. They can be watched in any order, and a package rate is available for those who catch all three, but if the second installment is any indication, any one of them will richly reward an evening's absence from your mom's couch.
Episode one, "Money, Take Run," introduces (to us and to each other) Robby Jean "Money" Marshall and Jimmy Jake "Run" McAllister, two young lovers on the lam who meet when they decide to knock over the same liquor store. Alexandra Creighton and Casey Jackson offer hilariously overwrought meta-performances portraying rebels from the wrong side of the tracks as played by dumb-bunny models, striking deliciously campy poses and dripping in bathos as they share the anguish of their tangled pasts: "I've never been pre-approved for anything in my entire life," Money sobs. Throughout the series they're bedeviled by creepy cop Jimmy Jack Bodeen (Alex Pearlstein), who has a long-standing beef with Run that presumably goes deeper than the confusing similarity of their names, and the nefarious Big Momma Bob (Alyssa Bostwick in bathrobe and curlers), owner of Big Momma Bob's Premium Liquor and Wine Emporium and essentially the Boss Hogg of Cudrup County. Among the other recurring characters, Dave Dyson's town drunk O.T. acts more like an all-purpose wacky neighbor than a drunk per se, and Dennis Yen's wry cowboy narrator keeps wandering in with convoluted homespun aphorisms.
In chapter two, "Of Nuns and Ninjas," Money and Run have to save an orphanage run by Sister Crystal Mighty (the kind of tough-as-nails nun who could easily moonlight as a dominatrix, played with appropriate badassitude by Jennifer Lucas) from being demolished so that Big Momma Bob can erect Liquor World, "the nation's first and only alcohol-themed family fun park." But that's far from all that's rocking in the town of GodBucket, "home of the world's largest Vienna sausage." Also in the mix is a tittering Swedish scientist named Dr. Asswagon (Noah James Butler giving brilliant new life to a character type one would have thought was long since played out), a lame orphan who thinks he's a chicken, a huge brawl between nuns and ninjas, and a running gag about people spitting out their drinks that may prove a disincentive to sit in the front row.
"Oh no," some might say, as they nibble their brie and sip their chardonnay. "Not another campy TV spoof!" Ayup, I reckon it is, but one that can be enjoyed wholeheartedly as well as ironically. And if being informed by the dominant cultural medium of the last half-century still means a comedy has to be a guilty pleasure, who the hell wants to be innocent?
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