What I’m about to tell you will sound very controversial . . . you may not even believe me at first. Frankly, I probably shouldn’t even be writing about it at all, but I’m compelled to. You see, last Wednesday night at 8:00pm I was an eye-witness to an alien invasion.
Not just any alien invasion – no . . . this was a Kentucky goblin siege. There were goblins. There was crazy banjo music. There were slo-mo shoot-outs. There were romantic entanglements. There were personal issues to be ironed out. There was a proposal of marriage. There were spooky noises of several different varieties. There was a rebellious teen who wanted to be a beatnik. There were people who weren’t what they said they were. There was a surprisingly serene baby. And when it was all over, there was a solid resolution for all involved. If I didn’t know better, I’d say what I’d witnessed was actually a theatrical play. Hey . . . wait a minute . . .
Of course it was a play. The Kentucky Goblin Siege is the latest offering by No Tea Productions (a group I’ve grown quite fond of over the months) who boast a talented ensemble of comedic performers including Playwright Jeff Sproul who also acts in the piece – and serves as the company’s Artistic Director.
Directed by Lindsey Moore, this zany tale weaves the storyline of almost a dozen characters (more, if you count the baby and the goblins) who are brought together this one night in 1955 to have a reunion of sorts that quickly turns into a madcap romp. For little did they know that on this night – August 21, 1955 - there was to be one of the largest reported alien encounters in U.S. history.
A lot of the humor of The Kentucky Goblin Siege relies on the element of surprise – a character acting out of character – or an unexpected twist. Sproul is a generous writer – every character gets their star turn – however some fare better with the script than others. There are definitely moments when a joke could have used a little more fine tuning, or a different emphasis for a bigger reward, or even just a little more playing to the back row. Still, as I happened to be catching the show on opening night, I’m sure those minor speed bumps will get smoothed out as this team finds the rhythm of those moments.
The Goblins themselves were the work of Puppeteer Anna Paniccia and the Puppet Heap Workshop – who all did a great job of creating dynamic puppets that moved with agility across the stage (each aided by 2 puppeteers discreetly garbed in black). Head Puppeteers Elizabeth Dapo and Ryan-Michele Healey and team puppeteers Alicia Barnatchez, Jesse Bernath, Lisa Nussbaum and Mike Quirk did an altogether effective job of bringing these creatures to life while actually making you forget that they themselves were behind the mischief. The fact that almost all of them pull double duty as full-fledged characters makes me tip my hat to their versatility and agility alone.
Compliments also to Jeremy Mather who not only creates a lovable dichotomic teen in Lonnie Lankford – who simultaneously looks like he can’t tie his shoes, yet enjoys books on architecture, for he was responsible for the engaging sound design that blankets this Siege.
With fun twangy accents that each actor really gets behind there’s never a dull moment, and the final show down of Man vs. Alien which boasts two well-choreographed slow motion moments (by Fight Choreographer Kenneth Nicholas) caps the story off nicely. While there were a few instances that didn’t quite ring the bell for me, those were far outbalance by many more instances which did.
So, if you’re in the mood for a show jam-packed with puppets, pistols, panic and puns The Kentucky Goblin Siege will transport you from your boring, non-golin-sieged-life to a place where anything can happen, and probably will.
~~~The Kentucky Goblin Siege Written by Jeff Sproul
Directed by Lindsey Moore Puppets by Anna Paniccia & The Puppet Heap Workshop
Featuring: Jeremy Banks, Alicia Barnatchez, Jesse Bernath, Sabrina Farhi, Jeremy Mather, Michele McNally, Mike Quirk, Alexis Robbins, Jeff Sproul, Christine Sullivan and D. Robert Wolcheck .
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street (between 2nd Ave and Bowery)
October 20-November 24, every Wednesday night at 8pm
. Click Here for Tickets ($18)