September 30, 2016

Return of the Wackos: Saturday’s Voyeur Returns for 2011

Saturday’s Voyeur returns par excellence.

by Anand Rao

It’s hilarious, hysterical and dramatically irreverent. A wild ride with time tested subjects for parody – religion, politics, Sarah Palin and well-timed expletives competing for attention with some extraordinary histrionic talent. Salt Lake Acting Company’s Saturday’s Voyeur 2011 ‘Wacko’ has everything to make a dream party in a liberal Utahn’s backyard. It would certainly require free-wheeling guests eager for some serious hip-swinging and crotch-thrusting fun. Don’t just come prepared for remixed and re-worded popular music or an exhibition of resounding conservative bashing but also look forward to taking home questions that could make your moss backed friends squirm and swivel in their seats.

Alexis Baigue (playing Ralph Becker) and Shannon Musgrave in Saturday’s Voyeur.

The “Voyeur” was started in 1978 as a spoof on the LDS production – “Saturday’s Warrior”, and has ever since earned a religious following in Salt Lake City. Playwrights Nancy Borgenicht and Allen Nevins completely rewrite the musical satire every year, lampooning the hot headlines of the year with lavish and luxurious creative freedom. This year’s “Wacko” brings America’s founding fathers to Salt Lake City to clarify a few famously held local beliefs. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Paul Revere, Betty Ross and Patrick Henry appear through dreams to express their outrage over the misinterpretation of their principles.

From GRAMA to the law on feral cats and immigrant policies to Mayor Becker’s dream of Broadway style theater in Salt Lake City, the hot topics of the last twelve months are invoked and slayed with boisterous relish. However one can’t help feeling that the lines veered too much to the left on most occasions. A semblance of comic balance could have been restored by including more characters from the liberal side of our political stage.

It all starts with the dream of a “Huntsman Republican,” who calls herself the Cat Lady. A resident of Yalecrest district of Salt Lake City, ‘Cat’ is at loggerheads with her Fox-News watching neighbors. To her rescue arrive the founding fathers to re-establish their vision. As a foil, Utah’s newsmakers are recast and thrown in to fight it out. Mayor Ralph (Becker), Utah senator Michael Wadd (Waddoups), Republican Utah representatives, Carl Dwimmer (Wimmer), Curtis Yo-Duh (Oda) and Orrin Snatch (Hatch), Gayle Bazooka (Ruzicka), Gov. Sherbert (Herbert) and other conservative noisemakers. To add to the comic twist, Ronnie (Ronald) Reagan enters the party with an open fly and confused loyalties yelling “tear down this wall”. Offsetting that with a dose of Democratic “war cries” would have completed the comic circle – may be a dread-locked “Rahmbo” with a Woodstock hangover. Bi-partisanship is not exactly “Voyeur’s” strength. Widening their funny oeuvre to include more of the left will probably add more to the growing list of SLAC fans.

Without exception, all actors were brilliant with each one donning multiple roles. The layers of humor were meticulously structured, and laid out for maximum effect which the actors did deliver in great style. Many of the characters involved walking the tight rope of historic reality and satiric comedy, not once did any of them appear too stretched.
Utah with all its cultural and religious idiosyncrasies lends itself abundantly to the Voyeur’s comedic indulgence. So much that it has become an iconic passage of entry for all the newcomers to the state. The raucous reaction from the mostly middle-aged and over audience to every expletive voiced from stage may seem strange to a few newbies present but that clearly reminds that we are still very much in Utah. It takes much more than 33 years of exemplary satirizing and swearing for art to achieve social change. Till then, as the “Voyeur” warns, the marble African Lions in the state capitol are in danger for being immigrants and feral.

‘Saturday’s Voyeur 2011’ opened on July 1 and plays through Sept. 4; Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. At the Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City. Tickets cost $39-$54. Call 801-363-SLAC or visit www.saltlakeactingcompany.org for more information.

Read Previous Review on Salt Lake Acting Company’s The Persian Quarter