Utah Theater Bloggers Review: Saturday's Voyeur 2017

25 July 2017

Experience the balm of Gilead of SLAC’s SATURDAY’S VOYEUR

By Elise Hanson | Utah Theater Bloggers | July 1, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — It has been a rough year for Americans. No matter your political leanings, the impossibility of blocking the outcry of impassioned consternation from your universe is a real and palpable experience for us all. Luckily for us and for the world in general, there is a remedy: humor.

Show closes August 28, 2017.

Salt Lake Acting Company’s Saturday’s Voyeur has been a mainstay of the Utah theatre scene for many years now, and this past year’s well-spring of material has produced a masterful and rollicking result this time around in the aptly named Saturday’s Voyeur 2017: The Sh*t Show.

The construction of this production written by Allen Nevins centers around a narrative structure utilizing a parody of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” wherein the chorus laments the political happenings of the last year. Clever lyrics by Nancy Borgenicht and astute observations in the form of satire had me laughing right off the bat, and when a shirtless and crotchety Vladimir Putin played by Eb Madsen made his entrance, I knew I was in for a treat. I had not hitherto experienced Saturday’s Voyeur, but having heard of it year after year, I had an idea of what I was in for. I am pleased to report that the show did not disappoint.

As it is written and produced by creative people and creative people tend to sway toward specific ideals, this play is skewed liberal. The lampooning of conservative beliefs and points of view were right up my alley, tickling my fancy and my funny bone in ways that may have been construed as offensive to those not enthused by the method of re-appropriation. Though real-life players in the political arena like Jason Chaffetz, Kellyanne Conway, and (obviously), The Drumpf were cheerfully abused, all was executed in a way that should not wound sensibilities past healing. Personally, I thought the script could have pushed harder, been more fearless, but a song called “Donald is Coming” sated my craving for outrageous, boundary-pushing comedy. Other favorites included parodies of “The World Will Know” from Newsies and “Diamonds are Forever” about the venerable Orrin Hatch, played hilariously by Annette Wright.

Each lead performer had their moment to shine, but in this show, the ensemble was the real star. The members of the costume-and-character-shifting chorus were vibrant, crisp, energetic, and multi-talented, bounding around the stage with astonishing alacrity and palatable choreography designed by Cynthia Fleming and Shannon Musgrave. A particular aspect that delighted me was the set changes, done in the style of Mission Impossible-themed music and movement. I giggled as chorus members dressed in black sneaked skulked over the stage, placing props and set pieces as though in a spy movie, sometimes even performing acrobatic flips and cartwheels to heighten the urgency. It was a clever choice that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also worthy of mention was the use of actors Becky Jeanne and Katryna Williams as the anthropomorphized versions of Siri and Alexa, the iPhone and Amazon programs. The two actresses punctuated the story, their matching hair and dresses juxtaposed with an amusing clash in personality that constantly had the pair at odds. Williams and Jeanne are well-matched in the roles, and their identical cackles had me cackling right along with them.

Particular kudos must be paid to costume designer Heidi Ortega. Such a large cast, each with member of which had at least four costume changes must have made for an enormous job. Yet, Ortega she executed it extremely well. Ensemble members were often required to go offstage for mere moments before emerging in entirely different garb, and Ortega ensured that they were able to perform this smoothly and efficiently. I appreciated the fun variants in color and style, from the now-iconic pussy hats to the dressing of Justin Ivie as a robust Russian woman to my favorite: Russian chorus girls in black leotards and Ushankas with flowing, cape-like skirts.

As one can imagine, there is a caveat attached to this production: view at your own discretion. However, I would imagine that any person in need of a deep belly laugh after the turmoil of this year would appreciate SLAC’s current foray into the prickly world of politics.