BY ELLEN ZENG
An (olive) oil crisis, an accountant looking for amour, and an amazing amount of puns saturate Acropolis Now, Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ 161st production.Hasty Pudding is the oldest college theatricals group in the nation, founded in 1795. Many luminous Law School alumni have been members of the Pudding, including former Massachusetts Governor William Weld ’70. “The Pudding,” as students of Harvard College are apt to call it, is renown for its annual burlesque musicals featuring an all-male cast. Student-written, Hasty Pudding Theatricals has produced a show almost every year since 1844. Past shows have included Cardinal Knowledge (1977) and Wetward Ho! (1921). As these titles might imply, Hasty Pudding is not afraid to be (overtly) sexual.
This year’s performance, Acropolis Now, is set in ancient Greece and tells the tale of a town facing an economic crisis. In addition the overtly topical nature of the story, the script also included other references to popular culture such as Dr. Seuss and President Barack Obama ’91. The sheer number of jokes whizzing by maintained a pleasing level of hilarity.
While some of the jokes took some thinking to understand, such as frat boy Brometheus being mocked for wanting to change the name of his fraternity to Kappa Kappa Kappa, others produced instinctive laughter. The jokes often came in such rapid succession that one couldn’t help but wish to be smarter so that one could “get” more of the jokes.The witty exchanges more than made up for the not-particularly-novel plot. My only complaint about the script is that the show should have stopped when the plotlines were resolved. Instead, it continued with an awkward, surreal, and over the top dance number showing Juno, the pregnant oracle, giving birth to 12 “babies” attired in Little Bo Peep dresses and bonnets. These “babies” then proceeded to perform the cancan, as well as other burlesque-type dances for a solid 10 minutes. Needless to say, it felt like the show just had to include a cancan number but could not fit it into the musical itself.
Memorable characters included town accountant Roseanne Columns, whose homely face belied her amazing endowments, and god Hades Pantsaretight, whose love with his own pants caused him to launch into song and dance about them. The actor who played Aphrodite also did a great job pulling off the Goddess of Love, armed with her 3 arrows: “Love,” “Liking,” and “I really like you but I’m not ready for commitment.” Though some characters clearly looked masculine, Juno looked uncannily like a woman. Another memorable sight was the Phoenix’s amazing legs, making one wonder: how can a guy’s legs look that good?
The singing, dancing, and acting, though on the whole well done, was lacking in some respects. Most noticeably, at times the baritone singing of a few characters could not be heard above the accompanying music. Nevertheless, for a student theatre, the performance was very well done.
The show runs until March 15 in Cambridge. After closing their Cantabrigian slate, the theatre will perform in New York City and Bermuda.