Watch out for flying underwear, squirt guns and runaway cast members if you plan on seeing "Scapino."
A production by the Fullerton College Theatre Arts Department, scheduled for two more performances, Dec. 4 and 5, "Scapino" provides many of the actors a showcase for their comic talents, but the story itself leaves something to be desired.
It takes place in present day Naples in and around a seaside cafe. When the play opens, >two young men, Ottavio and Leandro, marry their sweethearts while their fathers are away. When the fathers return and learn of the marriages, all hell breaks loose and Ottavio and Leandro turn to the crafty servant Scapino for help in saving their marriages and their skins.
The play moves along at a fast pace and many of the parts are physically demanding, requiring the actors to run, jump on trampolines and teeter-totters, climb ladders swing on ropes, take pratfalls and be thrown over tables, all of which is entertaining to watch.
Most of the cast give strong performances, in particular Sean McNall as Scapino and Andrew Pinon as Sylvestro, Scapino's friend and partner in deceit who is capable of pretty impressive back flips.
What makes this play different than most is that audience is included in on the act. It is the target of squirt guns, confetti, ladies underwear and cast members who run into the audience. The audience is also encouraged to stomp and to whistle the theme song from "The Bridge Over the River Kwai."
Despite all this, the story line is weak and even the excellent performances cannot save it from dying a death that is painful to watch.
Some of the chase scenes are stretched out interminably, while others are played a little too broadly. Worst of all,some jokes are more annoying than humorous.
Ambir Louise plays Giancita, Ottavio's bride, and she gives a good performance as a sweet, fluffy woman with a voice pitched so high she could shatter glass. Scapino makes fun of her voice when ever possible, imitating her and then< degenerating into a shrill bark While this was amusing at first, toward the end of the play I was hoping someone would pass out the Tylenol.
"Scapino" is not a politically-correct play, rife as it is with stereotypes, which can be a dangerous thing in today' s oppressive, don't-say-anything-meanabout- anyone climate. Villains are portrayed alternately as a Chicano gang member, an Asian karate master,and an English cavalry commander. This is bound to offend some of the more sensitive audience members who have nothing more worthwhile to get angry about.
"Scapino" also contains some gender-bending. The nurse and the cafe waitress are both played by men and the three waiters are all played by women. None of this is explained in the story, so it's assumed to be for the comic value and it works. Since seeing a woman dressed like a man is so accepted in society today, I almost did not notice.
All in all, "Scapino " is passable entertainment, but I would much rather see the same cast performing in another play.