The stylistic marriage of Shakespeare’s language and Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction reaps heady rewards for linguists and lovers of indie crime drama in Pulp Shakespeare (or Bard Fiction) at Theatre Asylum where the runaway hit of the 2010 Hollywood Fringe Festival is reinventing itself in a new production produced by Matthew Quinn and Aaron Lyons. Originally helmed by Jordan Monsell, this iteration is directed by Amanda McRaven and features three returning major cast members surrounded by a new ensemble of players.
Smart writing, coupled with deadly serious character interpretations and a clever transposition of Tarantino’s iconic scenes to 16th Century England, makes this the kind of shrewdly intelligent comedy you can’t get enough of.
Its two leading men are loaded with charisma. Lyons stars as Vincenzio de la Vega and Dan White as Julius Winfield, the Elizabethan counterparts of their namesakes played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. White has more obvious character traits to latch onto as Jackson playing Jules and his speech patterns and mannerisms offer up some of the biggest laughs in the show. Lyons is the more understated of the two, easily sliding into the slinkier style of Travolta’s Vincent. Together they make this buddy play a bloody delight. I’d see it again just to watch how they play the audience.
A manic Christian Levatino is the third returning lead. The wild-eyed combustible energy he channels for Butch is full of testosterone-driven intensity. I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of a meeting with him in a dark alley.
Energy lags a bit when none of the aforementioned are on stage but there are also several fine performances among the supporting ensemble. Gary Poux as Marcellus Wallace, Julia Aks as Butch’s childlike but alluring French girlfriend, Fabiana, and Dylan Jones (Meadsweet) channeling Amanda Plummer’s Honey Bunny, among them. An aloof Victoria Hogan has plenty of attitude as Marcellus’s wife, Mia, but not enough sultry sensuality to convincingly entangle Vincent.
Paula Higgins’ costumes set up the class distinctions by playing off rich brocades with stylish touches against the more rough-hewn fabrics of the commoners. Jeff Cardoni’s musical compositions are especially effective, as is his choice of pre-show music.
Shakespeare in LA
PULP SHAKESPEARE (or BARD FICTION)
Adapted by Ben Tallen, Aaron Greer and Brian Watson-Jones
January 17 – March 8, 2015
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA. 90038
Tickets: $20 online; $25 at the door.
www.combinedartform.com or http://bit.ly/PulpShakes15