Shortly after World War I, a Brit by the name of H.C. McNeile, under pen name Sapper, created Bulldog Drummond, a fictional WWI veteran turned gentleman adventurer who, bored by peace-time England, took himself on adventures and threw himself in danger’s path. He was, by all accounts, a “brainless hunk of a man”. That notwithstanding, the story caught on. McNeile wrote several Drummond melodramas, and upon his death his friend Gerard Fairlie kept Drummond going through several more.
Enter Ron House, a Chicago-born playwright and adventurer in his own right. Among other things, House many years ago revived Bulldog Drummond in the form of Bullshot Crummond. (It was made into a movie in 1983 by noneother than Beatle George Harrison.) His plays are hilarious spoofs of the God-is-an-Englishman superhero created by McNeile, with shades of Monte Python, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Bullshot Crummond: The Evil Eye of Jabar and The Invisible Bride of Death enjoyed its world premiere at Lakewood Theatre on March 4 and runs through April 10. It is a sequel to Bullshot Crummond by House and others, first staged in 1974.
House had a field day writing this thing. From the Beachy Head Cliffs to the Throttled Vicar Pub, from Devil’s Peak at dusk to Tangiers, and even a Casbah, Crummond (Spencer Conway) and his sidekick/fiancée Rosemary (Kelly Stewart) pit the few wits they have between them against Crummond’s arch-enemy Otto Von Bruno (Rick Warren) and his consort, Lenya Von Bruno (Stephanie Heuston). Rashid and Aunt Charlotte (Burl Ross), Algy and Achmed (Andrew Harris) round out the cast.
I will not tell you about the plot. It is a melodrama on speed, and the cast plays it to the hilt. What bears mentioning is the marvelous work by Lakewood’s talented creative team. Need a plane? a train? a car? sheep? These folks delivered them in the most creative and entertaining manner imaginable. How about a boat? special lighting for an invisible man? quicksand? or special padding for certain characters? These special touches were as humorous as the play!
Under superb direction by Alan Shearman, this ridiculous slapstick shines. Sherman and House have collaborated before–at Low Moan Spectacular, the London fringe theatre group which they co-founded, and on many other projects. Indeed, plans are underway to mount this production in London’s West End. Shearman has directed many shows at Lakewood, and we certainly hope he returns for more.