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‘Lizard Boy’ funny and endearing

Posted: October 14th, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Theater Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

Theater Review | Charlene Baldridge

Justin Huertas (above) wrote, composed and stars in the original play about a young man with a skin disorder who finds love on Grindr. (Photo by Simpatika)

Justin Huertas (above) wrote, composed and stars in the original play about a young man with a skin disorder who finds love on Grindr. (Photo by Simpatika)

Having received several hearty testimonials from friends who saw “Lizard Boy The Musical” in previews, I saw the piece Sunday afternoon, Oct. 9. The work — which comes to Diversionary Theatre from Seattle Repertory — is sweet, sincere and impeccably performed by the three persons involved: Kirsten deLohr Helland as Siren, Justin Huertas as Trevor and William A. Williams as Cary.

On stage with the attractive musical humans are numerous percussive devices to strike, including a piano; and instruments to strum or bow, ranging from cello to guitar to banjo and ukulele. That makes for never a dull moment as Trevor, the Lizard Boy of Ft. Defiance, meets Cary on Grindr (you need an app for that). Cary has just as many hang-ups as Trevor and is twice as aggressive, but they decide after their initial disastrous encounter to go slowly and be friends prior to consummation.

Kirsten deLohr Helland, as Siren, performing on "stage" (Photo by Simpatika)

Kirsten deLohr Helland, as Siren, performing on “stage” (Photo by Simpatika)

Here’s where it gets weird and wonderful. Trevor’s been dreaming of a woman (Siren) whose body is sprinkled with stardust. When the two men discover that she is singing at a local watering hole, they go, and Trevor discovers that she is “family” in that she, too, had an encounter with the dragon at the eruption of Mt. St Helens!

Siren is by turns seductive and downright scary as she predicts that all the dragons and lizards are coming to take over the world, which only she can save by usurping Trevor’s power as she has from other volcanic orphans, each of whom was gifted with a special power.

Here my narrative ends because I don’t want to be a story spoiler, and this one is humongously bizarre.

Director Brandon Ivie and scenic designer Ron Logan arrange the Diversionary stage, the comely performers and all their accouterments brilliantly. Erik Andor’s costumes are a hoot, including Siren’s get ups and Williams’ jockey shorts.

The sound design (Matthew Lescault-Wood) is unobtrusive and effective and so are the projections (Huertas, Joe Huppert and Logan plus projection colorist Laura Marshall). For all its chaos, “Lizard Boy” is exceptionally well organized.

(l to r) Kirsten deLohr Helland (Siren), Justin Huertas (Trevor/Lizard Boy), and William A. Williams (Cary) in Diversionary Theatre's run of "Lizard Boy, the Musical" (Photo by Simpatika)

(l to r) Kirsten deLohr Helland (Siren), Justin Huertas (Trevor/Lizard Boy), and William A. Williams (Cary) in Diversionary Theatre’s run of “Lizard Boy, the Musical” (Photo by Simpatika)

Of course the metaphor is living life with a flaw, like scales. Scales are pretty challenging. How does that affect one’s self-image? Is it possible to find purpose? Friends? Even lovers? What power within makes it possible to discover what is needed? We’re certainly on Trevor’s side.

Attractive and musically talented as Helland is, her menace is laid on a bit too thick and towards the end of the show people cheered whenever she was brought low, the only real flaw, so far as I can see. Maybe intended, though. All three are grand musicians and more than adequate singer/actors whose sincere performances of “Lizard Boy’s” 16 songs are delivered intelligibly and effortlessly.

Kudos to Diversionary for finding this sweet little musical and bringing it to San Diego.

— Charlene Baldridge has been writing about the arts since 1979. You can follow her blog at charlenecriticism.blogspot.com or reach her at charb81@gmail.com.

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