Dark, comedic tale of terrorism, bombs

Writing a scathing review about community-theater is a bit like blasting a tee-ball team for a lackluster and unprofessional performance. Unfortunately, my Friday-night foray into the valley for a night of disappointment and dramatics left me with no other option. After exhausting far too much time and patience in traffic from SMC to the valley, I arrived at the Eclectic Company Theater to attend a showing of the world debut run of  "Martyr Dumb," a dark, satirical look at terrorism.

The venue itself was underwhelming, even by community-theater standards.  And though claustrophobically compact, the bones-bare theater had more than ample seating to accommodate the handful of people in attendance.

I had actually been looking forward to "Martyr Dumb," and held high hopes for this lowbrow comedy. They were, however, quickly and efficiently crushed. Twenty minutes into a play that promised to be offensive, misogynistic, homophobic and most of all, a COMEDY, and I had neither cracked a smile, groaned, winced uncomfortably, or even so much as squirmed in my seat for any other reason than my foot falling asleep.  I was utterly unaffected and growing increasingly bored.

The acting, though far from remarkable, seemed, if nothing else, adequate, and rare bright spots did occasionally shine through. Kerr Seth Lordygan, who played Jer, the spittle-spraying, fully flaming, lisp-lipped receptionist, was well-deserved of the meager melody of chuckles, which though scarce, were occasionally evident.

In fact, the entire cast deserves some amount of credit for their unrelenting professionalism in the face of adversary. About a third of the way into the second act, half the audience (THREE people) attempted an inconspicuous and early exit.  Following behind her friends, a not-by-any-means-small woman failed to negotiate the last step (it really was a doozy), and took a tumultuous tumble onto the landing and into the wall. After rolling around awkwardly on the floor for the better part of a minute, in truly bizarre and ill-fated attempts at standing, the woman finally managed to stagger gracelessly out of sight.

Steely-faced and unflinching, the cast managed to soldier through the disturbance, and the show did indeed go on.

Curiously, I am unable to pinpoint the exact cause for my contempt. The acting was passable and the material, written by Kerr Seth Lordygan and Jason Britt, while far from great, wasn't necessarily egregious by any means. But perhaps that is exactly the problem.  The show was being billed as provocative, unsavory, ill conceived and offensive. Yet it delivered on none of the aforementioned promises.

The only things "Martyr Dumb" truly succeeded in offending were my eardrums.  Ladies, a word of advice: louder is not always better.  If I felt the uncontrollable urge to spend a Friday evening listening to the banshee-like shrieking of sub-par actresses, I would have invited my girlfriends out to date-night with the wife. That, however, will most definitely remain off of my to-do list for the foreseeable future, and so too should "Martyr Dumb" remain off yours.

If you neglected to read the previous 501 words and wish to see "Martyr Dumb," it is playing weekends through Oct. 17, at the Eclectic Company Theater, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Valley Village.

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