Phoenix’s Nearly Naked Theatre Company opened the second show of its season last weekend with a world premier. Fifty Shades of Felt is an adult puppet show produced cooperatively between Nearly Naked Theatre (N2T) and All Puppet Players. It is pretty funny stuff if you enjoy seeing puppets act like foul-mouthed, ill-behaved humans. And who doesn’t?
Both N2T and APP take meticulous pains to imply no connection between this play and any best-selling series of erotic novels. I will do nothing to jeopardize their position on this matter. In a completely non sequitur digression on a totally unrelated topic, feel free to check out my blog post Lady Porn about the first of a series of best-selling erotic novels I read last year.
All Puppet Players describes the play, written and directed by Shaun Michael McNamara, as:
“FOR MATURE AUDIENCES WITH EXCEEDINGLY IMMATURE TASTES! FIFTY SHADES OF FELT CONTAINS STRONG ADULT LANGUAGE, FULL PUPPET NUDITY, SEXUAL THEMES AND SITUATIONS AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION THAT SHOULD LEAVE YOU FEELING VIOLATED! (OR AT LEAST IN NEED OF A CIGARETTE).
…. Get ready to be FELT up!”
I wish I could offer a detailed review of the performance. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was only able to see Act I. The puppetry is artfully done. The puppeteers are dressed completely in black, including masks. This, plus skillful lighting, make it easy to focus only on the puppets as they move around the stage. On one side of the stage, in a puppet theater of a design that is both hysterical and tasteless, two puppets act as the voices of conscience and temptation to the characters on stage as well as narrators, greek chorus and, occasionally, crowd control.
The plot roughly follows that of the best selling novel on which this play is in no way based (wink wink) and, as a parody, it is well done. I attended the performance with two friends who had not read the novel and I think I liked it more than they did. Whether this is because I’d read the book or because they experienced both acts I will never know.
What I do know is this. I laughed a great deal at the part of the play I saw. And I enjoyed the play much, much more than I enjoyed reading the novel with a similar title on which the play is in no way based.
I confess the funniest moment for me was when one of the puppet narrators, spying two audience members heading for the the ladies room during the act shouted; “Where are you going, bitches? You’re going to miss the puppet sex.” Happily they made it back in time.