The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz
The Bloomington Playwrights Project is currently staging this Shakespearean Monty Pythonesque musical. Chock full of standard issue theater music, the actual story is wacky fun enthusiastically performed by Indiana University students. The ticket window had a freshly baked rat pie, complete with tufts of black fur and a bit of grisly tail, and I couldn’t tell if the woman was confused or irritated when I admonished her to be sure to wear a hair net while cooking them.
Percival von Scmootz is a shit shoveler in the medieval town of Manureshire, where everyone shovels shit. He distinguishes himself by surviving a sudden plague and pledges to his mother that he will personally drag the world out of the dark ages and into the light. He has to hurry, though, because everyone dies in the middle ages by the age of thirty and he’s already twenty-five. Every group he travels with teaches him a life lesson that he hopes to impart to the world. At the end of the show the cast sings a number I thought it was a brilliant shot, but kinda disturbing. After an hour of hilarious mayhem we were shell shocked enough to take it. A lot of the humor relied on the audience being intelligent, knowledgeable, and capable of taking a dirty joke. Like Shakespeare did back in the day.
The BPP is a very small venue, which is nice for productions like a close-up magician. For musicals, though, when the students began belting out the songs I was forced to reach into my coat for an earplug. Though all the actors are talented, with good comic timing, their singing strength varied, with my favorite being the strapping young man playing the knight. Nearly all the actors, as befits a Shakespearean style, played male and female characters, with my favorite being the mother superior, who got hilariously snarky fast.
The set was great and staging used every bit of space. Stagecraft was sometimes effectively gruesome, and after looking online at several reviews of the play elsewhere, I think BPP knocked the costuming out of the park.
As with nearly every production I’ve attended over the last few years, The Bloomington Playwright Project has chosen a solid comedy that will tickle your funny bone and make you think. The dark, intimate space of the Ted Jones Playhouse is perfect for a play as shitty (literally) and hilariously macabre as Percival. My only complaint is that the actors’ singing could have been stronger across the board, but if you see this where you live you may not have that problem. I recommend seeing it if you get a chance, because it’s distinctively funny, if you don’t mind listening to standard songs.
- The Bloomington Playwrights Project
- The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz
- Indiana University – Bloomington
The Enlightenment of Percival von Schmootz @ BPP
CFR: In Addition: *snort, laugh* The preview online made me giggle.