Remember all those clichés of derring-do? And all the silly parodies of these clichés?
This is what Camelot Theatre Company is serving up with "Bullshot Crummond," its first production of the new year.
First of all, realize that this is a play written by committee: Ron House, Diz White, John Nevile-Andrews, Alan Shearman and Derek Cunningham. Right away, some of the excess and absurdity becomes clear.
Take an unsung English hero, his loyal (if skeptical) sidekick, a duo of evil Germans. Then add an absent-minded but lovable English professor and his plucky daughter. You have all the characters and plot points of a '30s English serial and the silly variations thereafter.
Director Doug Warner then takes this pastiche to its logical conclusion. Yes, we're talking about Rocky and Bullwinkle — bigger than life, totally absurd and going for every shtick in the book.
It is sometime in the early 1930s. The evil Otto von Brunno (Warner) and his sexy, equally evil accomplice (Priscilla Quinby) Lenya von Brunno (wife, daughter, sister, lover — whatever) purposefully crash land in rural England close by the home and laboratory (say after me: la-bor-a-tory) of the lovable but bizarre Professor Rupert Fenton (Brian O'Connor). Professor Fenton has discovered a formula for synthetic diamonds (QVC, eat your heart out) and the evil von Brunnos want to steal this formula, crash the diamond market — and rule the world.
Of course, Fenton's determinedly chirpy daughter Rosemary (Tara Watkins) calls upon the courageous Bullshot Crummond to solve the professor's mysterious and sudden disappearance.
Bullshot Crummond (Brandon Manley), aided by the trusty Algy Longwort (Bart Grady), knows immediately that it is von Brunno ("the second-most dangerous man in Europe) and his seductive mate who are behind this. Crummond divines the plot and proceeds on a plan (well, sort of a plan) to save the professor and the damsel in distress.
Warner and his imaginative crew at Camelot have put together intricate physical comedy, scenery, props, sound effects, lighting effects and costumes to take this bit of fluff to its farthest extreme. Nothing is too absurd to try for a laugh, including car chases and carrier pigeons, sexy underwear, whips, dynamite, evil machinery and disguises.
Warner's cast — many of them playing multiple roles — has really gotten into the spirit of the thing.
Brandon Manley plays Crummond to the hilt — valiant, stupid and lucky. He is matched by the lovely, limber Tara Watkins as Rosemary (with the most deliberately irritating laugh in southern Oregon). Bart Grady, starting as Algy and then morphing into a cast of characters including the hilarious Marovitch (think Marty Feldman in "Young Frankenstein"), nearly steals the show. But then, he has competition from Warner, Quinby and Brian O'Connor, each mugging to the nth degree.
This is so much an ensemble effort that the set by Don Zastoupil, the costumes by Emily Ehrlich-Inget, the lighting by Bart Grady and the sound effects by Brian O'Connor are as important to the production as the direction and the excellent cast.
Is it absolute silliness? Of course.
Is it an absolutely hilarious evening at the theater? Definitely.
"Bullshot Crummond" plays at Camelot through March 1. For more information, call 535-5250.