“Epic Proportions” is full of bad acting.
And that’s good.
The Arizona Repertory Theatre production is a play about making a movie. And that movie — an over-the-top Biblical epic — is where the bad acting comes in.
Of course it would; this is a broad comedy, and it wouldn’t be as much fun if the acting in the movie weren’t so questionable.
When the cameras in the movie within the play stop rolling, however, these University of Arizona students bring on the acting that got them into the school and will propel them out into the theatrical universe.
The cast: Comedy ain’t easy. And broad comedy, especially, needs some solid talent if it’s going to work. And there’s plenty of solid talent in “Epic Proportions,” which opened Wednesday, Sept. 21. Especially impressive was Zachary Zupke, who played Benny, a young man who longs to be in the pictures and travels to a remote Arizona site to play an extra in a movie directed by the great D.W. DeWitt. Zupke is just a sophomore, and his comedic timing is already well honed. It will be fun to watch him on stage over the next few years.
Matthew Osvog played Phil, Benny’s brother, with a schizophrenic hilarity. Phil follows Benny to the desert to bring him home to the ‘rents, but instead the sweet young boy becomes the power-hungry director of the movie when it is clear that DeWitt is more interested in watching movies of naked women than shaping a Biblical epic.
Other standouts include Shira Maas as a chain-smoking Egyptian queen, and Tyler Reaser in the role of Louise, who is in charge of the thousands of extras and finds love dangerous when the two brothers fall for her.
The direction: Brent Gibbs knows that a thin, one-joke play needs much to keep the audience occupied, and he provided it. He infused it with more ham than a pig farm, and saw to it that the cast uses the fine art of mugging. While there were moments when the play dragged, they were just moments — he mostly kept the action moving so furiously that we didn’t have time to think about how stupid the play is.
The play: And it is stupid. One might even say epically stupid. The story is about those two brothers who yearn for the same woman while they are stuck in the hot desert making a movie that is a nightmare . That all happens in about 75 minutes. Good thing: something this wispy needs to go by quickly.
But: As stupid and silly it is, we laughed. Who can complain that about?