February 17, 2015
Special to The Alexandria Times
Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom! In Synetic Theater’s jived up version of Much Ado About Nothing Las Vegas’s flamboyant landscape of feathered and sequined showgirls becomes the backdrop for Director Paata Tsikurishvili’s reinvention of the beloved comedy and the next installment in the troupe’s “Silent Shakespeare” series. In his interpretation Beatrice (Irina Tsikurishvili) is a lovelorn lounge singer and Benedick (Ben Cunis) her castoff lover who are reunited in her Uncle Leonato’s (Peter Pereyra) casino. Much to each other’s dismay.
Benedick has joined Don Pedro’s (Philip Fletcher) gang the ‘Syneticons’ and blown into town on their boss motorcycles – – gleaming single-wheel choppers designed by Props Master Kasey Hendricks and Technical Director Phil Charwood. Soon gang member Claudio (Scott Brown) falls hard for Don Pedro’s daughter Hero (Emily Whitworth) and that’s when the jealousies, betrayals and backstabbing ruses begin.
In this Grease meets West Side Story meets Car 54 Where Are You? fantasy the comic relief is often provided by a hilarious trio of cops led by the Chief of Police, Dogberry, purposely overplayed by Vato Tsikurishvili. The cut-ups give chase to the lawless gang in slapstick routines worthy of Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. Of particular note is Zana Gankhuyag who plays Asian cop, Verges.
Choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili pulls out all the stops, letting the dancing dictate the period. In a departure from the dark side dynamic that infuses many of Synetic’s productions, the cast’s mood and infectious enthusiasm is flat-out joyful. Girls jitterbug in poodle skirts with James Dean bikers clad in leather and tight jeans while the super-fly theme from Peter Gunn takes it into overdrive.
It’s a doo-wop mash-up of oldies from back in the day as Sound Editor and Composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze and Music Director Irakli Kavsadze conspire to bring back Chubby Checker with ‘The Twist’, Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” and the era of “Beach Blanket Bingo”. Actually a few decades overlap here, but who cares, it’s an idealized backdrop for teenage angst and puppy love. So even if the Chippendales didn’t launch their striptease act till 1979, we don’t mind these hot male dancers doing a bit of bump-and-grind along with a game of strip poker. And though Leonato reminds us a bit of Al Pacino in the 1980’s Scarface and the preacher is a Black Elvis (Wait! Was that James Brown?), it’s fun to play along.
As expected there is breathtaking dancing and gravity-defying acrobatics from the classically trained Georgian troupe. And although it gets off to a bit of a slow start, after a few minutes in it explodes in full-throttle Synetic-styled mania fueled by dancers that look as if they’ve been just waiting to cut loose and show their cool daddy-o side.
Dig it! It’s like crazy, man, crazy!
Through March 22nd at Synetic Theater, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington in Crystal City. For tickets and information call 866 811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.