Last night I attended Valhalla, the kick-off production of Essential Theatre's 10th anniversary season of local and world premiere plays. Valhalla was kind of an odd duck, juxtaposing the life of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (Topher Payne) with an impulsive, gay Texan (Matt Felten) in the 1930s and 1940s. Playwright Paul Rudnick tends to be something of a one-liner machine, so the play's relentless quippiness at times concealed its more complex ideas. It reminds me of the joke in Raising Arizona that was called a "way-homer," "because you only get it on the way home." I'll have more to say about Valhalla later.
For such a small theater company, Essential is particularly proactive about using the viral video powers of the Internet. Just like last year, Essential Theatre's web site presents video previews (mostly interview-based) for its three shows running in repertory: the time-shifting comedy Valhalla; the crime-and-celebrity drama After Ashley by Gina Gionfriddo (opening July 2); and West of Eden, a comedy about Adam and Eve at middle age by Letitia Sweitzer (opening July 8). Here's the clip for Valhalla; for the others, just click on the titles.
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