Sam Gamgee, in the movie Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, righteously declares that "there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” Good theater is also worth fighting for, and you may very well find yourself battling to get a ticket to see Fly, You Fools! Presented by Recent Cutbacks, it is currently playing Friday evenings at Peoples Improv Theater in Manhattan.
While some of Fly, You Fools! is improvisational, don’t be misled: this is a tightly woven and well-thought-out spoof of Lord of the Rings. Three actors (and a fourth who also handles sound) re-create with great hilarity and intimate reverence the story of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin and their journey as they encounter practically every other character from the popular movie trilogy.
Nick Abeel, Kyle Schaefer and Matt Zambrano, along with Blair Busbee, in the style of the golden age of radio, refreshingly deliver Lord of the Rings with extraordinary deference to the art of great storytelling and comedy. The three barefoot actors are in a ring (it is Lord of the Rings, after all) surrounded by props.They include a long white wig (hello, Gandalf the White), an electric fan (because every movie in the franchise has lots of snow), two toy boats (they have to traverse the raging river somehow), two very long white pompoms (when wizards fight, there’s always a light show to be had), and a seemingly unending array of other household items. Each actor is dressed in black workout pants and a zippered hoodie that is brilliantly employed to create characters from hobbits to dwarves and the Elfin Prince. And then there’s Gollum, taking “my precious” to new, hilarious heights.
Busbee, as the sound and foley artist, has her own cadre of toys to create the effects and music to enhance the performance, from the crack of lightning to ethereal vocals. It’s easy to overlook her musical and timing talents amid the nonstop action and sheer unadulterated fun on stage. However, she finally, and rightfully, takes her moment in the spotlight within a male-dominated movie as she represents Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, windswept hair and all.
This is a live-action radio show at its finest, and the audience loved every minute due to the comedic timing and expressively talented actors directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker (Hold On To Your Butts and Kapow-i GoGo.)
“The Ring has awoken, it’s heard its masters call,” according to Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s films. If you enjoy the Shire and Middle-earth and have a penchant for the irreverent, you may also want to answer the call.
Fly, You Fools! runs at 8 p.m. on Friday nights through May 20 at Peoples Improv Theaters,123 E 24th St. between Park and Lexington. Tickets are $20 for general admission and are available at thepit-nyc.com and at the door. For more information, visit thepit-nyc.com/fools.