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Monday, June 6, 2011

Much Ado About Lebowski Sees 'the Dude' Through the Eyes of the Bard; Chaos Ensues

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2011 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Lebowski_no_idea_dance_1.JPG
Benjamin Wachs
The Knave, he dances.
Much Ado About Lebowski -- as its name suggests -- reimagines the Coen brothers movie The Big Lebowski as a play written by Shakespeare. It's among the rare shows where the insanity of the execution lives up to that of the premise.

To call it "over the top" would be to mistakenly imply that Lebowski has a top. While on the one hand this show is exquisitely written -- filled with deft Shakespearean wordplay and sharp pop-culture jabs -- it isn't really "written" at all; it's more like the producers (SF IndieFest and the troupe Primitive Screwheads) took a bunch of Lebowski mania, Shakespeare minutiae, Coens trivia, and miscellaneous references from across the big bright rainbow of geekdom, and flung them at the wall to see what sticks.

Amazingly, almost all of it does.

The result isn't so much a "play" as it is a "spectacle." You could easily imagine this Lebowski as a Burning Man theme camp.

click to enlarge Minstrels and cowgirls? Sure. Lebowski has both. - BENJAMIN WACHS
  • Benjamin Wachs
  • Minstrels and cowgirls? Sure. Lebowski has both.
Three Renaissance minstrels provide the musical score, duplicating the film's soundtrack but refusing to play Creedence Clearwater Revival. A toilet bowl and picture frames are hung over audience members in the first row. The Dude (the lead character played by Jeff Bridges in the film) becomes the Knave. (He still abides, though). Glitter is tossed at the audience, and so is real water. Inflatable bowling balls (available for sale in the lobby) are tossed down the aisles. The movie's fight scenes and trippy hallucinations are played out in fairly alarming shot-for-shot accuracy. The pastiche is masterful -- and overwhelming.

Next: Not a pause to be found in this production.

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Benjamin Wachs

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