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Regional Reviews: Los Angeles

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes

Also see Sharon's review of Late Nite Catechism

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes is pop culture's answer to the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and if the title alone doesn't make you want to see it, you're probably not who the show was intended for.

Because, truly, it isn't for everyone. If, for instance, you've never seen the Star Wars trilogy, don't expect this production to conveniently give you the Cliffs Notes version. Or if you're one of those people who loves Star Wars so darned much you write "Jedi" as your religion on the census form, you probably take things far too seriously to appreciate the humor here.

But if you're somewhere in the middle - if you remember waiting in line for Star Wars in '77 (or a re-release), if you've ever had a lightsaber fight with your chopsticks, if you've ever capitalized "Force," if you have at even one point in your life tried a Yoda impersonation - well then, get yourself down to the Coronet Theatre for a solid half hour of entertainment for your repressed inner geek.

In Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes (or SW30, to its friends) a cast of twelve, as advertised, performs the entire original trilogy in a half hour, with the permission of the folks at Lucasfilm. The beauty in Patrick T. Gorman's [see Sharon's interview with Gorman] adaptation is that it distills scenes, battles, and even entire characters, to their basic essence. No CGI or complicated puppets is at work here. C-3PO is just a guy with a gold-colored breastplate and black plastic kneepads suggesting his metallic body. (And that's when he's not Yoda - the kneepads which were costume a moment ago now have a more utilitarian function as actor Steve Josephson slides across the stage on his knees to play the diminutive Jedi.)

The low-budget quality of this adaptation makes for big laughs. In order to duplicate a shot of a TIE fighter screeching across the screen, an actor runs across the stage holding an air filter to either side of his head. Other effects are handled similarly. Wiffle bats stand in for lightsabers, with the cast providing their telltale hum. But when Luke uses the Force to call his just-out-of-reach lightsaber to his hand, SW30's solution to this special effects dilemma is as hilarious as it is simple.

Although this production is clearly in a hurry, it refuses to speed past an opportunity for a laugh. Princess Leia still says "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" at least a half-dozen times. Actor Alan Lennick must take up two precious minutes of stage time by duplicating every one of Obi-Wan's Significant Pauses. Actually, most of the cast is frighteningly good at replicating the vocal delivery of the actors in the films, with maybe just a pinch of overacting for comic emphasis. The one exception is James Snyder, who actually reads some of Luke Skywalker's lines with more honesty than Mark Hamill did - a state of affairs which is also pretty funny (albeit for the wrong reason).

SW30 packs three movies and a heck of a lot of laughs into a half-hour. It is fast-moving and detail-orientated. Blink and you'll miss a visual joke. Like the movies it lovingly mocks, it has its patrons lining up down the street (but, true to its spirit, only for 15 minutes). Join the line, you won't regret it. Or, to put it in appropriately condensed form: SW30 - funny as hell.

Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes plays Upstairs at the Coronet Theatre in Hollywood, Fridays at 9:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. For tickets call (310) 657-7377 or Ticketmaster.

Steve Josephson and Festival Theatre USA present Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes, Adapted and Directed by Patrick T. Gorman. Producer Steve Josephson; Associate Producers Jason Major, Scott Walker Mullin; Production Stage Manager Rikki Jues; 1st Assistant Stage Manager Jason Major; 2nd Assistant Stage Manager Maia Peters; Technical Director Casey Cowan; Set Designer John Edw. Blankenchip; Lighting Designer Trevor Stirlin Burk; Vocal Effects Director Howard D. William Yates; Press Representative Patty Onagan, Onagan Entertainment; Production Photographer Michael Lamont.

Luke Skywalker - James Snyder
Princess Leia - Maia Peters
Han Solo - Mark Kelly
Darth Vader/Chewbacca - Scott Walker Mullin
C-3PO/Grand Moff Tarkin/Yoda - Steve Josephson
Obi-Wan Kenobi/Gamorrean Guard - Alan Lennick
Jawa/Greedo/Tauntaun/Lando Calrissian - Jason Major
Uncle Owen/Rieekan/Bib Fortuna/Emporer - Mark Reilly
Captain Needa/Ackbar/Jabba the Hutt - Michael Cornacchia
Aunt Beru/Wedge/Boba Fett/Wickett - Leigh Anne Goodoff
Gamorrean Guard/Nien Nunb - Patrick T. Gorman
Storm Trooper/Ewok - Bailey Chadwick

Be sure to check the current schedule for theatre in the Los Angeles area.

- Sharon Perlmutter

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