My Name Is Mudd at Jackalope Theater Company | Theater review
Shawn Reddy’s vaudeville-style play on Lincoln’s assassination is full of interesting historical tidbits, but the comedy is broad in Jackalope’s revival.
If the name Richard Mudd doesn’t ring a bell, you’d be hard-pressed to find enlightenment from Shawn Reddy’s 2004 montage play based on the historical figure and his attempts to clear his grandfather’s name as a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Aiding the titular MC is a vaudeville theater troupe led by John Wilkes Booth that reenacts and provides commentary on events leading up to and surrounding the shooting. As history, it’s interesting stuff; Reddy peppers in curious tidbits such as the reason only one guard was on duty in the President’s box in Ford’s Theatre, as well as Lincoln’s eerie pattern of crossing paths with both Mudd’s family and his future killer.
As comedy, it fares less well, amounting to little more than frat-boy sketches, empty sight gags (Mudd plays with Lincoln Logs; get it?), and labored Abbott and Costello–type needling. Esteban Andres Cruz earns the most laughs as a token-gay wig dresser and actor: cheap, but funny.
Director Gus Menary shows ambition in his eclectic style but needs to revisit the fundamentals: There’s more to comedic energy than shouting, and the word fuck is not in and of itself a punch line.