As a lousy exhibit is nevertheless settling into its badness — tests new ways of getting bad, discarding them for other strategies it could be worse — the observer’s intellect may possibly come across alone going on a journey. A magic carpet experience, even, if the show retells the Aladdin folktale.
1st may well come this considered: Even weak content can perform as a automobile for a excellent forged and adoring viewers to make quick-distance love to just about every other. The talent’s definitely there in “The Magic Lamp,” which opened Friday, Dec. 10, at the newly renovated Presidio Theatre, with “Beach Blanket Babylon” alums in the ensemble (and considerably of that revue’s aesthetics, also).
But when Danny Scheie as the villain does a undesirable-on-reason rap, rhyming “weirdo” and “San Diego” in front of a desk with “Sailor Moon,” “Star Trek” and Los Angeles Dodgers paraphernalia, a different psychological method offers itself. Since no narrative logic applies in this panto, a ribald holiday custom popular in the U.K., turn off the fussy sections of the mind. It is time to bebop all around in screwy city, reveling in Timothy Santry’s poofy wigs and Lindsay Saier’s glittery makeup, with its velvet pink and aquamarine hues.
But screwy town wants rigor, too. Luther Hanson and Christine Nicholson’s script retains ricocheting to and tenting out in inane tangents. Evidently, we want a narrator (Scott Reardon), but only sometimes, and with a backstory so we can make lazy jokes about San Francisco stereotypes? And a 2nd genie (JM Appleby)? Who are these beings in white, caressing Aladdin (Rotimi Agbabiaka) in a cave? Wherefore the glow-in-in-the-dark amount? Out of the blue we’re supposed to care about the demanding chef at the lovers’ marriage ceremony and an ensuing food stuff struggle?
At this place, the most charitable witness ought to develop into anthropologist, learning what this travesty demonstrates us about our planet, fearing what historians will think, pondering why and how so significantly dollars (large forged, generation crew and artistic workers seizure-inducing projections a four-particular person band scads of costume improvements) obtained thrown at these incoherence and absence of eyesight.
At previous, generosity ought to give way. As a complex-problem-plagued opening evening approached a few hrs, all that was still left was bargaining with God. Just about every time a scene turned out not to be the final scene, the prayers and negotiations recommenced.
Continue to, there are a couple of fantastic matters in the clearly show, starting off with Alina Bokovikova’s heroic costume layouts. The cups of the brassiere of Widow Twankey (Curt Branom) retain modifying to foreground just about every scene’s thematic material. Harem pants drape, bootie toes curl, and rainbow platform sneakers tower. Three hens (Jen Brooks, Ruby Working day and Albert Hodge) have feathered shawls for wings, yellow vertical strains on their black tights to ingeniously suggest chook legs and ginormous tail feathers collected into a issue that pops up every time they bend around. People three, with their bawk-bawk-begawking, steal the demonstrate.
But what is their plunder? In director Tamroz Torfeh’s dishevelled, gassy staging, actors clump collectively as tent poles propping up a soggy blanket in a storm. One particular choral arrangement is so muddy it is as if the rating claimed only, “Notes, notes, notes, notes.” Singing voices that in other displays can clean up out your anxious and circulatory techniques here are hoarse and clamorous. Dropped cues and botched lines pile up. Actors who you know are execs hardly admit their scene partners.
But wait, here’s a rooster hurling some candy into the audience. Boo the villains and the Dodgers references, we’re told. Giggle pruriently all over again at the point that 1 character is named Pecker. Warn the hero that there’s something driving him. It’s viewers participation as audience desensitization.
Take into account this your very own warning: There’s anything sinister lurking guiding you, as well, and it’s this display.
J“The Magic Lamp”: Prepared by Luther Hanson and Christine Nicholson. Directed by Tamroz Torfeh. By way of Dec. 31. Two hours, 50 minutes. $10-$75. Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Ave., S.F. www.presidiotheatre.org