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Dad's Garage Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 3.00000
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REVIEWS

Action Movie II: Episode One, by Daniel May
Not Quite up to the First
Friday, June 29, 2001
3.0
I was a huge fan of Dad's Garage's original production of "Action Movie: The Play," and so I was very much looking forward to the prequel. Unfortunately, "Action Movie II: Episode One" doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, though it's still a lot of fun.

One of the running gags in the original "Action Movie" was the over-abundance of backstory...at one point, the character "Stone Hardgod" interrupted another character's explanation with "That's about all the exposition I can take!" The biggest problem with the prequel is just the opposite. Little or no clue is given as to the characters' history. Instead, playwright Daniel May seems to take it for granted that the audience remembers the original "Action Movie" and is familiar the characters' pasts (or futures, since this takes place over 20 years before the first play).

In the original, even the minor characters (such as the secondary villains "Pike Calypso" and "Poison") were clearly defined individuals (stereotypical, perhaps, but clearly defined). By contrast, this show's supporting thugs ("Villainette" and "Synonymous Botch") are vague ciphers, despite the efforts of the very talented Alison Hastings and Maia Knispel, respectively.

One character's fate is left as a dangling plot thread...although this character did reappear under a different name in "Action Movie: The Play," the only clue that it's the same person is that it's played by the same performer. (And with one other major role being recast, and several stars of the original playing different roles, this clue isn't as clear as it might be.) I would have preferred it if the play had provided a more concrete indication of what happens to this character...not necessarily spelling it out for the audience, but at least providing some hint about the connection between the two plays.

However, I don't want this review to sound totally negative. "Action Movie II" does have a lot to recommend it, most obviously the energetic, charismatic cast. The puppetry of Chris Brown & Lucky Yates combine to make "Master Spitake" (a cross between Yoda and the old monk from TV's "Kung Fu") one of the funniest mentors ever. And the elaborately choreographed fight scenes, with several small skirmishes occurring simultaneously, require several viewings to fully appreciate.

All in all, "Action Movie II: Episode One" is a very enjoyable play...it just falls a wee bit short of its predecessor.

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