Parents, keep your kids at home for this one, but be sure you don't miss it. Abducting Diana by the controversial Italian playwright Dario Fo, is one of the wildest, strangest, funniest shows you'll ever see, and it doesn't even matter that you can't understand some of it.
Let me explain. On second thought, I shouldn't explain it, even if I could. I'm not trying to be paradoxical, but this play is one surprise after another, and to describe them would, obviously, spoil the surprise.
The play begins with the stylized seduction (a mild word) of a young man (Kenny Randles) by an excessively aggressive dominatrix, played by Brandi Rene Flowers. Their rough tryst is interrupted by three kidnappers, who carry them away to an abandoned ice cream warehouse. And there the fun begins. Pencil slim and gorgeous, Flowers, playing a powerful publishing tycoon, is impressive as the cool, clever manipulator Diana, always in charge, even when she is tied up hand and foot. A constant visual joke is Flowers, with her stiletto-heeled thigh-high boots tied together, hopping madly about the stage, bossing and intimidating the kidnappers. You could also say she gives a shocking performance.
Veteran director Larry Dennis has taken Fo's provocative script and given it his own twist, setting the action right here in "our lovely City of Trees," according to the program. He works in mentions of our beloved Gov. Dirk, the corrupt statewide newspaper, and even the friendly little Nampa newspaper, all designed to promote (or ridicule) his message about the inequities of capitalism, aided and abetted by the Catholic church in oppressing the masses. Fo slips in a few slaps at media exploitation and the power of big business. But not to worry. The characters may get preachy, but you'll be laughing too hard to care.
Kevin Labrum, as Kidnapper No. 2, has given outstanding performances in past shows, but in this role, he outdoes himself. He manages to make suffering funny, electrocution hilarious and being burned alive the joke of the week. Labrum has the ability to make even the most horrendous situation comic, and when he rushes for the safe haven of his refrigerator, he elicits sympathy, along with howls of laughter.
The other kidnappers, Karl Johnson and Jeff Thomson, are also fun, with some great lines, but here is where one of the play's principal problems handicaps them. They are wearing full head masks, to conceal their identity from the victim, Diana. Although the sight of them in the grinning faces of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Condeliza Rice and Hillary Clinton--and later adding George Bush--is hilarious, it also muffles their voices and makes many of their lines difficult if not impossible to understand.
Fortunately, Elizabeth Greeley, playing Diana's mother, is not wearing a mask, and her wry facial expressions and icy delivery of lines make her appearance a theatrical jewel. Craig Shaul plays a puzzling priest, obviously disguised, who has an agenda that is hard to figure out. Noah Moody and Katrina Knight are perfect in their short appearances.
Director Dennis includes expert special effects and sound design, and even moving walls, all helping make this bizarre and slapstick play one to think about and debate about for some time to come.
Abducting Diana, Stage Coach Theatre, 7:30 p.m. on Th.; 8:15 p.m. Fr.-Sa. through Oct. 22, 2 p.m. matinee Su., Oct. 16. Tickets $12 Fr.-Sa.; $10 Th. and Su.