Infusion Theatre Company presents
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
Written by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Mitch Golob
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sunday at 3pm
Thru June 5th
Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission and delayed start
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
'Soul: the spiritual nature of a human being. Samurai: one bad mutha.' And so it begins... Infusion Theatre Company presents the Midwest premiere of SOUL SAMURAI. In futuristic New York City, a woman avenges the death of her lover. After witnessing Sally's savage killing, the helpless Dewdrop loses the glasses and trains in martial arts. As a super hero warrior, she protects innocents from the evil underworld. Her sidekick, Cert, aka Death CERTificate, has her back in the revenge crusade. Retribution turns pulp fiction as Dewdrop fights her way home. It's "Kill Bill" attacks the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to the sounds of Grandmaster Flash. SOUL SAMURAI is action theatre with a side of comic book. 'Smack!'
It's upbeat fun! Jesse Livingston (The DJ) sets the tone for the urban smack-down. Livingston cues up the perfect hip-hop soundtrack for a bloodbath. Accompanying the tunes, Liviu Pasare provides video projections blending vintage NYC photography with cartoonish imagery. Onstage killing is reiterated onscreen with comic blood splurts and one word exclamations 'Whoosh!' The fight sequences directed by Geoff Coates are remarkable athletic buffoonery. The sword duelers magically are uplifted for a crouching-dragon-midair kick. Swords whiz across the stage to hit the target. Blades are brandished for a conflict spectacle. The satirical take on the Kung Fu genre is clever theatrical entertainment.
Under the direction of Mitch Golob, the cast energetically battle movie caricatures with
flourish. In the lead, Christine Lin (Dewdrop) contrasts geeking it up in glasses and sweater to bad ass-ing it with leather and sword. Lin is believable as 'one bad mutha' when she is screaming expletives at her enemies. In more conversational moments, Lin and other cast mates are inaudible over the music. A loud spoken Steve Thomas (Cert) utters every word clearly and comically. Thomas is hysterical as the wannabe-street-smart-better-half of a dynamic duo.
Playwright Qui Nguyen has made a film genre into a live stage performance. Nguyen created SOUL SAMURAI as a comic book style adventure. The exciting stunts appeal to kids but colorful R-rated language would suggest adults only. (The shocked whispering family next to me left at intermission.) In addition, a few speed bumps in the otherwise action-packed show were some overly lengthy shticks. The joke loses its zing with repeated telling. Some of the thrill is gone in a second act that starts preachy and gets lovey-dovey. A lovers' flashback illustrated with puppetry seems out of place within the combat zone. Overall, the tragic love story with cool special effects has all the makings for a cult classic.
Production photography by Anthony LaPenna.