A conquest for fun-loving Impys
If you're yearning for a vacation romp in sunny Roma but find yourself a little short this month, the Impossible Players have a deal for you.
The Impys opened their season last night with "Roman Conquest," a fun and silly trifle set within hailing distance of St. Peter's dome in the Eternal City. A vivacious, middling-size crowd enjoyed a brisk two-hour romp with a solid troupe of performers — a nice mixture of vets and newbies.
The cast actually was better than the script by John Patrick that they were performing.
Patrick didn't give his characters very interesting things to do or very compelling reasons to do them, but the cast's energy and personality made up for those deficiencies and kept the crowd laughing and happy.
Supposedly set in "The Present," the story had many hallmarks of its origins in the early ’70s. Repeated references to Joan Crawford (Who?) led the anachronisms. But who cares what year it is when the point of the play is to showcase a gaggle of quirky characters — and varyingly successful Italian accents?
The story centers on "Hank" (Kristen Stewart), the 10th-richest young woman in the world who is slumming in Italy with her best friend "Sue" (Molly McGuire). It seems Hank wants to be an incognito artist. Sue just wants to avoid the Vatican pigeons nesting in her bedroom.
They quickly run into all manner of exuberant locals: "Tony" (Marvin Hays), an irrepressible young man who wants to get to America and is willing to be the girls' "dog" in order to achieve his goal; "Georgio" (David Browder), a dreamy-eyed fellow painter wannabe with a hankering for Hank; and rental agent "Pellucci" (Ken Thompson), who punctuates many of his entrances with a forlorn "we have a problem."
Add Tony's Uncle Vito (James Asbury) and a bickering Principe and Principessa (Mark Duvall and Lara Craddock), then top things off with an 85-year-old Naked Old Man (Randall Martella), and there were plenty of opportunities for silly smiles.
Impy regular Hays led the menagerie. Though maybe a decade (or so) older than his "young man" character, he willingly exhibited the reckless abandon of early adulthood, especially during his extended modeling turn wearing nothing but jockey shorts, a large Atlas-style globe, and a devil-may-care smile.
Newcomer Stewart held her own with a pleasant grace that made her easy to watch and enjoyable to cheer for.
Impy stalwart Ken Thompson gave one of his better performances as the morally malleable schemer who's always looking to lease his seventh-floor walk-up to just one more tenant.
The happy ending was pretty darn arbitrary, but sophistication was not what this show was all about. The audience — and cast — had a good time, nobody got hurt, and all got a chance to frolic for a while in the home of the Caesars and the occasional friendly rump-pinch.
Not a bad evening's entertainment, all in all.
"Roman Conquest" continues at 7:30 tonight; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 7:30 p.m. March 18, 19, 25 and 26.