Playwright: Scott OKen. At: Factory Theater at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. Tickets: 866-811-4111; www.thefactorytheater.com; $20. Runs through: Aug. 31
This latest spoof from the irreverent Factory Theater's Scott OKen mashes up two of Hollywood's most popular film genresjungle-warfare action-adventure and "kaiju" science-fictioninto a live-action cartoon smarter and funnier than its 75-minute running time would lead you to expect.
We open in a Saigon hotel room circa 1967 where tough-chick Weaver's PTSD is interrupted by the brainy Madame-Professor Chaldarhallohapzrd, who summons the damaged American agent to a remote encampment near the Cambodian border. There the women are placed under the care of tough-dude Sergeant Montrose, whose platoon includes the inevitable homesick newbie and philosophical demolitions expert (the latter, a preternaturally hirsute corporal nicknamed "Bigfoot"). Their mission will subsequently put them face-to-face with such exotic adversaries as ghostly apparitions of the ancient regime, a few obligatory Viet Cong and a Kurtz-like mad doctor bent onwhat else?global annihilation, achieved by means of "de-fossilized" dinosaur eggs, hatching, among other beasts, a Tyrannosaurus rex.
This scenario is not wholly implausiblecombat nerves can induce all kinds of paranoid hallucinationsbut you probably won't want to waste time looking for serious content in a dramatic universe drawing on such diverse sources as Apocalypse Now, Dr. Strangelove, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Godzilla, M*A*S*H* (complete with laugh track), Good Morning Vietnam (yes, there's a wisecracking radio DJ) and the animated avians of Walter Lantz. Laura McKenzie and Timothy C. Amos project the requisite unisex macho, Eric Roach endows the evil Prof. Nyguen Nyguen (pronounced "Win-Win") with ayou guessed itGerman accent, Erik Frederickson and his fellow grunts juggle M16 rifles and stunt-underwear with nimble alacrity, while the rest of the ensemble swaps costumes and dialects at likewise road-runner velocity.
There's no denying the loyal following forged by Factory Theater on the strength of its take-no-prisoners parodies (Mikey Moran's score of incidental music nails the cinematic clichés down to the last "Along the Watchtower" and "For What It's Worth"). You don't have to be a Viet vet (like me), or even remember the historical era, to get most of the jokesbut you'll laugh a lot more if you do.