Theater Review - Clash Titan Clash! releases the comedic kraken
Dad's Garage takes a many-tentacled approach to Greek mythology
In Greek mythology, the famed hero Perseus was conceived when Zeus, father of the gods, visited nubile young Danae in the form of a "shower of gold." Playwright/performer Lucky Yates treats that detail and its scatological implications like a gift from the heavens in his bawdy Grecian romp Clash Titan Clash! at Dad's Garage Theatre.
Yates brings about nine parts raunch and one part reverence to the madcap puppet show, inspired by the 1981 fantasy epic Clash of the Titans (a remake of which hits theaters April 2). Clash Titan Clash! takes sport in mocking the movie's sillier aspects. In particular, the presence of Bubo, a clockwork owl, is included as a transparent rip-off of Star Wars's R2-D2. The play draws more heavily than you'd imagine on the original myth, however, and comments on Greek mythology's sheer weirdness. Clash Titan Clash! demonstrates the malleability of enduring stories, while finding some titanic laughs in names such as Dictys.
Scott Warren plays Zeus, a truly omniscient narrator, as both a booming WWF-style emcee and petty omnipotent tyrant. Yates and Amber Nash serve as his attendants. They act out the legend of Perseus with Ken- and Barbie-size puppets. Director Jason von Hinezmeyer also designed the puppets and their absolutely gorgeous, museum-ready tabletop settings.
Clash Titan Clash! takes a loose, pop-savvy approach to the story, allowing the cast to josh around while maintaining enough structure to keep the improv from growing too indulgent. When Zeus uses one of his pop-up books to reveal a way-too-graphic childbirth scene, he deflects the spectators' disgust by asking, "Where do you people think you came from?" Nash once again proves to be a comedic gem. Even while puppeteering, she speaks with the poise and refined accent of roles that don't realize they're funny. I could watch her dance like an owl all night, but would love to see her in a meatier show.
Because of the small-scale puppets and other designs, the production uses tiny spycams to project images on a big screen at the back of the stage. Since most of the humor comes from the physicality and delivery of the human performers, not the puppets, the cameras aren't critical (unless, maybe, you're in the back). In fact, the camerawork proved borderline disastrous opening night. If they thought cheap, glitchy cameras would provide more fodder for ad-libbed jokes, the video effects worked a little too well. They slowed down a show that already felt too long given its frivolous approach to the material.
Nevertheless, Clash Titan Clash!'s jokes hit like thunderbolts more often than they fizzle like burnt-out light bulbs. It's the kind of show that seems to take a rowdy audience as a source of energy, not distraction, particularly when the crowd roars at Zeus's command, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" Plus, the liberal arts majors in the audience can chuckle at Yates' observation that the monstrous, many-tentacled kraken comes from Norse, not Greek, mythology.