GI's in Europe
Factory Theater at Prop Thtr. By Scott OKen and Ernest Deak. Dir. Nick Digilio. With OKen, Manny Tamayo, Anthony Tournis, Sarah Graber.
To be clear, Chicago needs a satire of Elvis Presley’s military movies the way America needs a third Bush term. About as far from the national consciousness as wartime home canning, the King’s soft-core boogie flicks take a backseat—hell, the trunk—to the flaming claptrap coming out of contemporary Hollywood, which is in much greater need of spoofing. Alas, though, satires at the fringy Factory, while rarely timely, are also rarely time-sensitive. They tend to impress less with zeitgeist skewering than with evergreen, pickled élan. And when they’re short, salty and they have Jennifer Santanello, we’ll take what we can get.
The cake-mix setup—three American GIs on the titular continent are in charge of keeping their general’s slutty daughter out of trouble; trouble ensues—allows Digilio’s large ensemble plenty of elbow room to goof around. Jennifer Pompa as a lusty German bar wench, Manny Tamayo as an enthusiastic but moronic soldier, and Paul Metreyeon as a perverted Nordic villain are all like familiar paintings hanging crooked on the wall.
But it’s Santanello’s teeny-bopper character that sets the show apart. Although OKen and Deak’s slapdashery can be chaotic and hard to follow, and the mock-Elvis songs OKen performs are both forgettable and extraneous, Santanello’s sniveling, star-struck creation (she finds the Elvis character to be kinda dreamy) is like Fanny Brice’s Baby Snooks by way of the Garbage Pail Kids. It’s creativity from which we could all learn.—Christopher Piatt