If you’re ever lucky enough to be the first to rediscover a lost piece of art that stirs you to your core, you’d probably want to share that piece of art with the world, too. That’s the basic premise behind “Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk,” the highly original and hilarious show from local comedy supergroup The Burglars of Hamm, playing now at The Broadwater Main Stage.
The lost piece of art in question is the title play by the almost-forgotten Swedish playwright Lars Mattsun, a contemporary of August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen who somehow managed to fade into obscurity. Until now, that is, when director/English translator/choreographer/Mattsun enthusiast Todd Merrill (Todd Merrill) revives the play with a great sense of duty to reintroduce this master of the written word back into the public’s eye. Merrill, in his effort to make sure the public truly understands Mattsun’s original vision, insists on giving the audience headphones through which he can deliver a running director’s commentary as the actors perform the piece. Most of the actors don’t share the same zeal or regard for Mattsun’s play as their director does, and that eventually causes some tension as the play proceeds.
This is a terribly funny show. It skewers the artistic process, the pretension of artists, and all the supposedly-amazing classical works that contemporary audiences force themselves to watch to feel high-brow. Listening to Merrill gradually fall apart as the actors get the fine details wrong scene after scene is pure joy.
The entire cast is solid across the board as they each play themselves as actors playing their parts. Special recognition goes to Laura Nicole Harrison as Mariah whose bandaged hands make for an inspired on-going sight gag, to Scott Leggett who portrays himself with fewer IQ points than he actually has, to Jon Beauregard whose jerky stares are second-to-none, and to Moira Rogers who does a pitch-perfect lampoon of child acting. At the center is Tim Kopacz who stars as himself playing Phillip, the struggling painter who can’t bear the prospect of getting a job as a clerk. Kopacz suffers through some truly ridiculous physical acting with the straightest face of them all. He’s the only actor who truly believes in the material and he mines that devotion to Mattsun’s script for great humorous rewards. As Merrill put it himself over the headphones during some of Kopacz’s wild gesticulating, “Thank God for Tim.”
The Burglars won the Best Comedy award at Fringe last year for “Easy Targets,” their sock-throwing parody bonanza of one-person shows which is playing again this year with a different line-up; also a goodie. By now, I’ve learned that any show with The Burglars of Hamm behind it is a must-see event. This revival of Fantastiskt Mystisk is no exception. Don’t miss it. -ZACHARY BERNSTEIN
Published June 11, 2018 by Guy Picot