The eagerly awaited return of the critically acclaimed Open Door Theatre, after a long hiatus, is a distinct disappointment. Kerpow! — the company's summer show and fundraiser — is a fast and furious and not very funny spoof of comic-book Super Heroes and Super Villains. Written expressly for Open Door by Triangle dramatists Kit FitzSimons and Bryan Cohen, Kerpow! tries — and spectacularly fails — to duplicate the comic formula employed by the world-famous Reduced Shakespeare Company in the California-based comedy troupe's first two shows: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and The Complete History of America (Abridged) — two veritable laff riots that The Open Door Theatre performed in a variety of Triangle venues in summers past.
This Not Ready for Prime Time parody, languidly directed by Open Door company member and dramaturg Anthony Fichera, has too many words and not enough wit. The young cast — Kit Fitzsimmons, Caroline McCann, Beth Sommerville, and Chris Walter — is earnest and game, but too inexperienced to make lemonade out of this lemon of a script.
Performing this show outside last Sunday evening at Caffé Driade, where the horrible acoustics of the great outdoors and the hum of near by Franklin Street swallowed many a punch line, seems to magnify audience discomfort and focus unwanted attention on the youth an inexperience of the cast. All in all, Kerpow! seems more like a collegiate production that a summer show by an established professional theater. Chris Walter and Beth Sommerville are the most entertaining performers, but half a cast and half a show is not a winning combination.
The Open Door Theatre presents Kerpow! Friday-Saturday, July 30-31, at 8 p.m. in the Skylight Exchange, 405½ W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill; Sunday, Aug. 1, at 6:30 p.m. at Caffé Driade, 1215-A East Franklin St. in Chapel Hill; and Friday-Saturday, Aug. 6-7, at 8 p.m. at Joe and Jo's Downtown, 427 W. Main St., Durham. Admission is FREE ($5 suggested donation). 919/672-2426 (for information only). The Open Door Theatre: http://www.theopendoor.net/. Weaver Street Market: http://www.weaverstreetmarket.com/ [inactive 9/04]. Caffé Driade: http://www.caffedriade.com/. Reduced Shakespeare Company: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/.