While flooding and signs of global warming abound, it could be the appropriate time for levity. In an unusual reversal, Danielle Small, founder of Microwave Babies theater company, adapted a $235 million dystopian epic, Waterworld, into a low-budget musical, staging it in the cozy courtyard of Maison de Macarty Bed and Breakfast in Bywater. The absurd premise of the original film is elevated to outrageous in Waterworld: The Aqua-Play.
Directed by Michael Martin, Waterworld is preceded by a two-hour pool party with a tiki bar, setting the mood for campy catastrophe. For a late-afternoon plunge into backyard theatrics, the show is terrific fun.
Narrator Jessa Frymire dramatically opens the show with an environmental message explaining a fantastic scene — several survivors bob and cling to pool rafts and inflatables after the polar ice caps melt and continents submerge. Kevin Costner (Mac Taylor) navigates a ship in search of land, terrain he has never experienced. In this post-apocalyptic world, dirt is as precious as gold. Costner's sailboat and the hand-operated waves surrounding it, two-dimensional cut-outs designed by artist Ann Zatarain, are positioned in front of a backdrop that appeared to be a sheet stretched between two posts. Sloshing sounds conceived by Jim Fourniadis and visual projections by Eric Sie give the courtyard stage an aquatic effect.
Neither Taylor nor Stoo Odom, who plays Dennis Hopper, make major attempts to imitate the screen actors, instead bringing their own styles to the roles. Taylor, a poet whose most recent acting experience was as Frank N. Furter in the The Rocky Horror Show, vigorously plays the bare-chested hero. Odom previously appeared as Rod Serling in a San Francisco production of The Twilight Zone and is a bassist known for psychedelic rock. Hoping to discover land before Costner does, Hopper declares: "Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny."
Small personifies Costner's love interest, Jeanne Tripplehorn. Michael Martin's two characters, an elderly woman and a sea creature, perish within minutes of appearing. NOLA (Christine Rush) is a terrified nymphet about to be sacrificed to the sea.
Throughout the production, techno music composed by Ratty Scurvics provides inspiration for synchronized kicking and robotic dancing choreographed by the Rev. Spooky LeStrange and Jules Ismaname.
The cast also includes Stumps da Clown, Obie Perez, Sam Cammarata, Andrew Ransom Brasher, Mathys Hebert, Ana Mangeaux and Gambit Special Sections Editor Missy Wilkinson.
There is no pretense of great drama, and Waterworld: The Aqua-Play is a fun, cooling diversion from the summer heat that captures the craziness of Bywater.