Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Forbidden Love" Comic Book Style with Captured Aural Phantasy Theater by M.R. Hunter

“I wanted Dick. I was a fool for Dick. All I ever wanted was more of Dick.”

Sexual innuendo was ripe in the heyday of romance comic books with vivid depictions of star-crossed lovers falling into outstretched arms or running towards one other on a secluded beach. For almost 40 years, romance comics enjoyed a healthy audience of teenage girls before the advent of soap operas dominated television. Conservative critics, always the perennial killjoys, attempted, and in some cases, were successful in banning comics considered carnally explicit.

Oh yeah, baby!

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater unveils these so-called “dirty rags” in their “Forbidden Love” series playing at the El Cid. The troupe’s signature performance style harkens back to the good ‘ole days of radio with retrospective styled microphones, crooning numbers and old-fashioned sound effects while reading from vintage comic books projected behind them to hilarious effect. The dinner theater ambiance lends well to the off-the-cuff, unique yesteryear entertainment. There isn’t anyone like CAPT and they have developed a steady following over the years.

Created by Chicago actor Benjamin Dickow, the ensemble is known for taking on the comic book genre by embellishing it with a dramatic flair for the theatric. Dressed in period, the actors accentuate the subtler aspects of the text and add physical comedy and vocal intonations. Funny, smart and a hit for anyone who collects comics, this is a novel show worth every penny.

This particular series may not leave one feeling all hot and bothered, but it is an outrageous presentation of what was once considered forbidden (or too racy). In our anything goes society, a cartoon depiction of a busty blonde chasing after her main squeeze named Dick might be considered practically chaste. Given the times and the rise of the McCarthyism era when these were published, the show takes on an intellectual context of how mores, art and gender roles have profoundly changed. There’s more intellectual commentary here than just a variety show.

And that’s why CAPT is on our radar and we keep coming back for more comic book high jinks. They also reenact various genres including horror, sci-fi and noir with the same care given to each. Whatever your brand of pop culture, there is something these cats are always doing.

Carlos Zelaya, Ben Dickow, Adriene Biondo, Jessica Temple, M.R. Hunter, Nicole Ortega, Amy Golden 
The historic El Cid is a fantastic venue known for its flamenco performances but with its spectacular courtyard and mean sangrias, there’s a lot of room here for performance artists. Arrive early and enjoy the verdant atmosphere and Spanish tiled motif with a drink at the bar. Entrée menu options leave a bit to be desired, but are sharable with a group of people. Be warned the guacamole with the chips and salsa is very spicy. Those who prefer milder dishes will be well-advised to sample tamer options. Stay after and enjoy the candlelit booths.

The truth is? I want Dick. I need Dick. I yearn for Dick.

OMG! What’s wrong with you people? Can’t you get your mind out of the gutter for a moment?

Yeah, neither can we and that’s why we love this show and our friends at Captured Aural Phantasy Theater. They always make dialogue sound better when it's encapsulated by a bubble.

Next show is Taboo Terror on Sunday, April 6
El Cid
4212 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA  90029

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