by Charles Kruger
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In the days of the Weimar republic, before the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, the marvelous city of Berlin was known both for its decadence and its artists: writers, actors, painters, musicians, and hedonists of all sorts were drawn to the center of all things outrageous. Its cabaret scene was a famously off-the-wall free-for-all. And then came the war. And nothing was the same.
In Castro Street’s liberated hey-day, before the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Tea Party, before the techie gold rush, the marvelous city of San Francisco was known both for its decadence and its artists; hedonists of all sorts were drawn to the wonder of it all. Its Theatre of the Ridiculous was an explosion of joyfully kinky fun. And then came AIDS. And nothing was the same.
The similarities are not lost on the talented Scrumbly Koldewyn, a former member of the infamous and celebrated Cockettes, who has seen, loved, and celebrated the glories of liberation for decades.
Koldewyn is a natural fit with Russell Blackwood’s Thrillpeddlers, a company that celebrates the Theatre of the Ridiculous with original work and spirited revivals of the best of the Cockettes.
With “The Untamed Stage,” Koldewyn and his kinky cohorts have dug deep into the bowels of the ridiculous, and surfaced with nuggets of tarnished comedic gold. Outrageous? You bet. Obscene? Oh my, yes. Tasteless: John Waters would blush. Funny: To the maximum.
“The Untamed Stage” purports to recreate a “Weimar Berlin Kabarett,” but San Franciscans will not be fooled — it is a celebration of the glorious oddity of San Francisco’s liberated lunacy. When the players assert, in the final number, that, no matter what, they are Berliners, nobody can miss that it is the currently-under-seige San Francisco of the outsiders to which they are pledging allegiance.
Koldewyn is a highly skilled purveyor of witty songs, and this enthusiastic company directed by Russell Blackwood knows how to deliver them with panache.
Tasteless is rarely this much fun.
“The Untamed Stage” continues its extended run at The Hypnodrome through June 11. For further information click here.
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“The Untamed Stage.” Concept, Music, Lyrics and Musical Direction by Scrumbly Koldewyn with additional material by Terance Bennan, Damien Chacona, Cab Covay, Andy Wegner, Martin Worman, and Alex Kinney. Director: Russell Blackwood. Choreographer: Marilynn fowler.
Additional staging by Cab Covay and Noah Haydon.
David Bicha, Nkechi Emeruwa, John Flaw, Zelda Koznofski, Noah Haydon, Kim Larsen, Bruna Palmeiro, Steven Satyricon, CJ Smith, Rochelle Urban, Jason Wade, Crystal Why, Diogo Zavadzki.