Kings of the Universe: Busting Guts, True Believers

Local Arts Reviews


Kings of the Universe: Busting Guts, True Believers

Hyde Park Theatre, through May 5

Running Time: 1 hr

The beauty of satire. When a stage show can stick its finger in every dessert on the display tray and refuse to order one, that's satire. Chris Alonso and Louis Wells begin this Pegasus51 production (booming voice here) Kings of the Universe by satirizing their own superhero egos developed after receiving two (count 'em, two) good reviews in the paper. Wells plays a heckler to textbook proportions while Alonso's a mean one with a ping-pong paddle.

From there, Kings of the Universe serves up two short one-man pieces, one by each participant. Wells is first with his Stretch Marks in my Moral Fiber, the tale of a young man's journey from freshman naïveté to graduate world-weariness. Wells uses traditional storytelling, spoken word, and character voicing in portraying his efforts to lose his virginity at college.

All the women in the piece are represented by a microphone stand with a dress on it. These include the girl of Wells' dreams, who overdoses on cocaine on their first date (she doesn't know who Beethoven is but has an amazing "artistic aesthetic" anyway); a married woman with whom he gets caught in bed by her entire family; and the townie to whom he finally (and rather desperately) loses his cherry.

If it sounds funny, it is -- gut-bustingly so -- but Wells spends an awful lot of stage time on the slapstick. I found myself wishing he'd have rummaged below the surface.

Next up is Alonso's Alcohol, a tale about Chris, drink, and the clink -- he's arrested for Drinking While Intoxicated and sent into rehabilitation. While rooted in stand-up comedy, the piece incorporates several theatrical elements: shifts in and out of different characters, gobs of poetic language, and serious introspection.

Alonso's piece offers very personal opinions, such as his description of his particular alcoholism treatment program as "a lot of bureaucracy taking money from sick, disadvantaged people." Whereas Wells' piece is rooted more firmly in comedy, Alonso's has moments of darkness -- as when he stays awake for five days straight because he needs liquor to sleep.

True believers, Kings of the Universe found me rolling in my chair (scary thought, I know). It was well worth it -- except for the fact that the night I went, I (and the rest of the audience) was treated to a Lone Star 'fan can.' It may be made from the choicest grains and hops with crystal-clear water, but it tastes less than kingly.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

kings of the universe, pegasus51, louis wells, chris alonso, stretch marks in my moral fiber, alcohol

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