Featuring: Philip Abrams, Brett Baker, Ogie Bank III, Wolfe Bowart, Adrienne Brett, Greg Burns, Thom Cagle, Susan Carlson, Jeffrey Daymont, Christine Deaver, Sophie Matilda Deaver, Christian Fitzharris, Stefan Haves, Shannon Holt, Jan Kirsch, Denis Lacombe, Nisha Laval, Leah Leddy, John Mackey, June Melby, Deidre Miller, Gary Morgan, Jim Newman, Todd Onoda, Christopher Peak, Mat Plendl, Lora Rion, Steven Ritz-Barr, Paul Sand, Antony Sandoval, Joe Seely, Daniel Stein, Tracy Thielen, Miguel Vargas, Matt Walker.
Ahumorous, theatrical variety show created by the Los Angeles Physical Theatre Project, “Moon Over Madness” crosses mime and music with “Saturday Night Live.” Twenty-seven segments beget three hours of mostly fun and spectacle, and at its best, it becomes visual and aural poetry. While the show could be trimmed by up to a half-hour, the huge cast’s enthusiasm and comic flair fill the night outdoors at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.
Creator and director Stefan Haves was a production consultant on Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s “Fool Moon,” which this production at times resembles. With its expressive costuming (designed by Felipe Sanchez) and segments of circus-like spectacle, the show also brings to mind “Cirque du Soleil.”
The evening begins in 1694, Nimes, France, with a group of washerwomen who, because of the moon, start going mad, pouring water over each other and carrying on. A groupof men, gathering sticks nearby, joins in.
From there, the first act contains a number of brilliant segments. Stefan Haves’ “Backman” features his backside, upside down, with two dots painted on his skin for eyes.
Hilarious are seven waiters, whose antics with folding chairs take the night into a higher realm. Just as amazing is Wolfe Bowart, Brett Baker and Christopher Peak, who juggle vegetables, eggs and sounds in “Omelette Special.”
Much as Pink Floyd can transfix listeners with their alpha wave-enticing rhythms, so too does Duke McVinnie and his band.
The second half of the night brings four acts that, if only offered by themselves, would satisfy completely. A bungee cord ballet uses McVinnie’s hypnotic music to accompany several of the company members who bounce, attached to the elastic cords.
Denis Lacombe’s “Conductor,” which suggests Charlie Chaplin’s physical comedy , and a most incredible hula hoop display by Mat Plendl, top the evening.
A few pieces are not effective, such as a slide show that, on opening night, was presented long before dark, making the images unviewable.
While Bob Zentis’ set design is appropriately minimal, his lighting design is quite complex. Production and mask design by Deborah Bird, choreography by Carol Guidry and puppetry by Steven Ritz-Barr deliciously add to the madness.