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Theater review: 'Bullshot Crummond and the Invisible Bride of Death' at Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center

December 30, 2010 |  3:38 pm

Bullshot3958 A heroically zany cast ricochets across "Bullshot Crummond and the Invisible Bride of Death." Whether their droll abandon lands Ron House's sequel to his much-produced 1972 spoof of H.C. McNeile's 1920s-'30s Bulldog Drummond novels is a trickier wicket.

Following an asylum-escape prologue, "Invisible Bride" begins with daftly imperturbable Hugh Crummond (Oliver Muirhead) carrying new wife Rosemary Fenton (Anastasia Roussel) over the threshold. Immediately the lowbrow jokes start piling on, as Hugh's clueless British reserve in regards to marital duties cues Rosemary's reaction to his outlandish, um, endowment.

The travesty thickens once Dr. Morton Fenwick (Rodger Bumpass) enters. At least, initially, his voice does. Having gone bonkers when his Oxford schoolmates made him pants-less in public, Fenwick has since discovered the formula for invisibility. This sketch-weight conceit takes in villains Otto Von Bruno (Christian Rummer), "niece" Lenya (Katie Boeck), the crown jewels, Arab marauders and Foreign Legionnaires, amid enough double-entendres, pantomime and slapstick to tax Benny Hill.

Unfortunately, the years have rendered author-director House's targets, and the means by which he skewers them, unavoidably dated, all loopy repetitions and lewd groaners. Moreover, a skimpy aura accompanies the bare-stage proceedings, which designer Stephanie Schoelzel's costumes, Edwin Peraza's soundtrack and Paige Selene Luke's lighting only heighten by default.

That leaves the balance of substance to the adroit actors, who play multiple roles and give the mugging, quick changes and physical comedy their all. Fans of the first "Bullshot" may still embrace "Invisible Bride of Death," but, barring the players, the freshest aspect of this outmoded burlesque is its title.

-- David C. Nichols

"Bullshot Crummond and the Invisible Bride of Death," Whitmore-Lindley Theatre Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Dark Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Ends Jan. 16. $25. (800) 595-4849, http://bullshotisback.com. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Photo: Anastasia Roussel and Oliver Muirhead. Credit: Ty Donaldson

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