Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Comics and theatre: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

The most prominent figure to work in both the comics and theatre fields is, of course, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Even before he landed his first comics assignment with Marvel's "4," many of his plays had incorporated themes and references from comics. Most prominently, he wrote a play originally entitled "Archie's Weird Fantasy," a time-twisting meta-fiction with Archie Andrews leaving Riverdale, coming out of the closet, and remaining ageless as he shifts from the 1920s (where he goes to college with Leopold & Loeb) to the 1950s (where he lands a job writing for EC Comics, runs afoul of Dr. Fredric Wertham, and begins a romantic relationship with young reporter Jimmy Olsen) to the present day.

Literally the day before the premiere, Dad's Garage Theatre got a cease-and-desist order from Archie Comics' legal department. The company hurriedly revised the script, changing the title to "Weird Comic Book Fantasy" and renaming all the characters ("Archie" became "Buddy Baxter," "Jughead" became "Tapeworm," etc.). Despite the short notice, it still worked...perhaps even better with the roman a clef names than if the "real" icons had been used.

Creative loafing review of Weird Comic Book Fantasy

(In subsequent productions, the title of the play is now "Golden Age.")

Review of the New York production of Golden Age

Here's a photo I took of Matt Horgan (who played "Buddy Baxter"), left, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, right, at the opening night of "Weird Comic Book Fantasy":

Dad's Garage later produced "The Weird," an anthology of short plays by Aguirre-Sacasa, which again featured a number of comics references. The plays were tied together by a Crypt-Keeper-style narrator (played by Scott Warren under heavy make-up). The piece "Swamp Gothic" starred Sloane Warren as Abigail Arcane (complete with a black streak in her white hair) and Rene Dellefont as Matthew Cable, though the actual premise of the play veered far away from the established "Swamp Thing" characters. (In "Swamp Gothic," Abigail was played as an over-the-top Tennessee Williams-style southern belle, confronting Cable about his affair with her brother Alec.) It even worked in a reference to some of the comic-book Anton Arcane's most twisted evil acts, when Abigail insinuates that she cannot be shocked because "The Arcanes are an old family and I have many uncles." The final playlet, "Dinner with the Super Friends," depicted a casual lunch meeting between a retired super-heroine (Sloane Warren again, playing "Frances Kane") and her still-active crimefighting friend (Bethany Irby as "Kara"), celebrating Kara's birthday at Bibbo's diner.

Creative Loafing review of "The Weird"

Dad's Garage Theatre and a couple of its performers later figured into one of the most obscure inside references ever in comics...but that's the subject for another post.


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