"Improbable Frequency" (Strawdog Theatre): Clever, Madcap Romp

"Improbable Frequency" (Strawdog Theatre):  Clever, Madcap Romp

Strawdog Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of IMPROBABLE FREQUENCY.  It’s 1940.  Hitler is a viable threat.  England is under attack.  Puzzle-pro Tristram Faraday answers a want ad and becomes the U.K.’s newest spy.  Faraday is shipped to Ireland to solve a transmission mystery.  Song requests on a radio station are influencing the weather.  Faraday is tasked with figuring it out.  During his investigation, he is riddled by an Irish stalker, a mad scientist, a femme fatale plus an array of other zany characters. It’s all up to a crossword fanatic to crack the code.  IMPROBABLE FREQUENCY is a clever, madcap romp.

This show is smart on a few levels.  It’s based on a true story.  The characters are real people in history.  The entire play is done in spoken and sung verse.  It’s entirely a *word* play.  Ingenious!   Playwright and lyricist Arthur Riordan started out writing a musical about crossword puzzles and went for a full-on brainteaser.  Riordan amusingly tells of the clash of the English and Irish cultures.  The song “Be careful not to patronize the Irish” encapsulates the feuding buffoonery.  With Riordan’s words and peppy tunes by Bell Helicopter, I walked out with “We are in the gutter” stuck in my head.

Under the wacky direction of Kyle Hamman, the six member ensemble lampoons this one! Michael Dailey (Tristram) leads the shenanigans with dead-pan sophistication.  An impressive Dailey recites and sings an ongoing litany of absurdity.  Although the entire troupe makes merry out of this lyrical pun fest, the ladies are standouts in their Dailey captivation.  A wide-eyed Sarah Goeden (Philomena) charms with nervous laughter and blarney wit.  Christina Hall (Agent Green) plays sexy vixen with smoldering aggression whether she is belting out a torchsong or attacking an unsuspecting man.  Hall is fierce!

Now, I love all things Irish.  I also love getting punny.  IMPROBABLE FREQUENCY is a lot to love.  The farce is like “Pink Panther” as read by Dr. Seuss.  The dialogue is silly and droll.  The execution is brilliant and inane.  At first, I had trouble relaxing into the rhythm of it.  It takes a certain amount of letting go of the practical and embracing the illogical. By the second act, I was tuned into this goofy station.  IMPROBABLE FREQUENCY has a lot to say if you listen carefully.

Running Time:  Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission

At Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway

Book and lyrics by Arthur Riordan

Music by Bell Helicopter

Directed by Kyle Hamman

Music direction by Mike Przygoda

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Sundays at 4pm

Thru March 30th

Buy Tickets at www.strawdog.org

Photo by Chris Ocken

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