The Factory's latest goof adds a healthy dose of dinosaurs to its Vietnam War narrative.
1/2Photograph: Dan TamarkinLaura McKenzie, Allison Cain and Timothy C. Amos in �Namosaur at Factory Theater
2/2Photograph: Dan TamarkinTimothy C. Amos, Ross Compton, Eric Frederickson and Laura McKenzie in �Namosaur at Factory Theater
By Aeneas Sagar Hemphill|
A monster movie spoof set in the Vietnam War? Maybe the premise sounds like a trainwreck SNL sketch, but Factory Theater’s ’Namosaur is a different kind of animal. It runs less like a contest of pop-culture reference and more like classic farce: tight and energetic, with jokes fueled by character interaction and plot. There are maniacal scientists, a Big Foot (Eric Frederickson)—here a demolitions expert with a tendency to wax philosophical—and, of course, giant dinosaur puppets. The play’s goofiness, however, is spiked with irreverence. Prepare for gags about Charlies, Agent Orange and the "tit offensive"—funny, clever, but not exactly plunging the philosophical depths. At times the play even seems to actively avoid it. In the words of playwright Scott OKen, "It is silly as hell. It is here to entertain."
The contrast of the play’s earnest desire to make fun wherever it can and the darkness of the reality it spoofs does add an interesting layer, and the production goes out of its way to immerse you in its freaky memory of 1968. Hendrix, Dylan and some very unfunny clips of a soldier’s shock-jock radio broadcast play between scenes, which create some near-haunting moments. Then someone says "do you like it?" and Weaver (Laura McKenzie) once again finds herself interpretive-dancing her way into a flashback.
So ’Namosaur is clearly an odd show, but Factory Theater’s full embrace of this is exactly what makes it so fun. Every choice, from acting to design, is clear and confident. From McKenzie's amped-up, noir-like ennui to Roy Gonzales's resilient gee-golly-goodness as Private Osbourne, the ensemble truly dives in, and the rest of the production matches the commitment. Will ’Namosaur inspire deep discussion? Probably not. Perhaps in spite of itself, as some may find the play’s treatment of its context flippant. But the production is solid, and Factory Theater definitely distinguishes itself as a strong company. If it’s your style, ’Namosaur will entertain.