Bullshot Crummond

Bullshot not always on target, but still farcical fun

Vine Theatre, Orlando, Florida

From OrlandoCityBeat.com, June 13, 2004

Bumbling detective Bullshot Crummond thinks he’s always on target in both sharpshooting and sleuthing, when he is, in fact, hopelessly untalented at both. Although the Vine Theatre’s production of the 1920s crime drama parody is sometimes off target just like its hero, it delivers enough campy comedy and self-deprecating humor to forgive the misfires.

Written by Ron House and four other actors who were simply improvising a spoof of fictional British detective Bulldog Drummond and decided to write down their shenanigans, the farce has become a cult favorite. This is mainly because actors seem to have so much fun with the tongue-in-cheek writing and silly stunts, and this production at the Tupperware Theatre in Loch Haven Park is no exception.

The story, which scarcely matters amid all the silly stunts and plot twists, involves the evil Otto Von Brunno’s flying to England and kidnapping professor Fenton in order to secure for himself and his equally devilish wife, Lenya, a secret formula for manufacturing diamonds. As is customary in the detective dramas that the play spoofs, a beautiful English maiden, in this case Rosemary Fenton, the professor’s daughter, calls upon the hero Bullshot to save the day.

The play’s success depends on the talent of the actor in the title role, and, thankfully, Tim Williams is the funniest and most charismatic of the five-person cast. He consistently captures both the detective’s charm and arrogance while keeping the meandering plot interesting. He also rarely departs from his upper-class British dialect, which, unfortunately, not the case for the rest of the cast.

These shortcomings rarely matter, however, as almost all the bad acting and silly staging add to the whole lighthearted feel. As the producers tell the audience before the show, if we’re expecting thought-provoking drama, we’re out of luck with Bullshot Crummond, as they selected the play because they wanted to have fun.

The rest of the cast assembled by director Rus Blackwell, though not as spot on as Williams, contribute their own style. Stephan Jones, as Bullshot’s nemesis, Otto, admittedly sounds more Scottish than German, but his facial expressions and hilariously obvious yet lightning-fast costume changes are wonderful to watch.

As the love interest of Bullshot and the distressed daughter of the kidnapped professor Fenton, Natalie Cordone has an excellent rapport with Williams, and their scenes together, although tedious and pointless, are some of the most fun of the play. The versatile Mark Lainer also draws his share of laughs, as he’s called upon to play every remaining character in the play. And even though his dialects wander and a couple of his characters are a bit invisible, he has an almost ad-libbed and amateurish style that can seem at times, well, professional. Only Kim Stone, as the evil Lenya, is not quite up to the task.

Finally, Roger Scott, Tommy Magieri and Erin Miner deserve as much credit as the performers, as their hilarious props, which include wooden ducks flown in on wires and Ed Wood-inspired set pieces, in addition to their lighting and sound effects, greatly enhance the actor’s performances.

Bullshot is not the best or perhaps even the funniest play currently in Orlando, but it’s the one where the actors have the most fun, and that fun is contagious. Rarely is bad theatre this good.