Review: ‘Kong’ is a towering comedy at T.U. Studios
Skypilot Theatre Company’s “Kong: A Goddamn Thirty-Foot Gorilla” sets its satirical aircraft targeting system on a rather sizable object. Managing it on a small stage with an even smaller budget is all part of the fun in Adam Hahn’s affectionate new parody of the iconic 1933 big screen version of “King Kong.”
Director Jaime Robledo deserves enormous (sorry) credit for turning an essentially high-concept comedy sketch into an often hilarious full-length high-camp romp. Applying the same kind of visual ingenuity that distinguished Robledo’s long-running “Watson” at Sacred Fools Theater, his staging evokes shifting 3-D perspectives through trompe l’œil sets and, in a pinch, miniature dioramas to re-create the film’s action sequences.
Audience participation is actively encouraged at various points, including an ingenious low-tech way for all to join the climactic aerial assault on Kong (Germaine De Leone, loping about in a costume bearing unabashedly minimal resemblance to an ape suit, and brushing aside toy airplanes and toy artillery as if they were toys).
Nuanced performances are not exactly the highest priority here, but Sara Kubida’s impeccable comic timing connects the latent psychological dots in Ann Darrow, the oft-screaming blond starlet at the heart of the story’s interspecies love triangle. In a wry post-feminist spin, she confesses deep affection for Kong because “he never made me feel small.”
Helping sustain the pace through a few overlong one-joke sequences, Eric Curtis Johnson exudes clueless complacency as the human rival for Ann’s heart, while JR Esposito’s impresario Carl Denham sports manic energy reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s Ed Wood.
In a notably sharp aside, Arden Haywood steps out of his role as the Skull Island native chief to comment on the racial subtext in a movie about a kidnapped African protagonist put in chains and brought to America to make a white man rich.
“Kong,” T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 9. $20. (800) 838-3006 or www.skypilottheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
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