‘Braggart Soldier’ like John Goodman’s career after Roseanne

Braggart Soldier Performance

Eric Coulter

Braggart Soldier Performance

Elijah Brumback

“Braggart Soldier” was goofy as all hell.

It seemed like a parody of a parody of a parody of parody of Roseanne, if Roseanne had been made for Greek daytime television. And like the glorious age of the early ’90s, when Roseanne was one of television’s greatest gladiators that left no stereotype untouched or cultural attach?© unaddressed, neither did the handy playwright, Plautus, who penned some of the earliest slapstick comedy the empire ever saw.

In this update, screenwriter and author Eric Segal, known for his translations of Plautus as well as The Beatles 1986 animated feature, Yellow Submarine, kept the integrity of the original script while making it easy for the audience to follow the plot, almost to the point of monotony.

At several occasions, the story mover, a slave named Palaestrio, played by junior theater major Joe Cox, takes time to address the audience as well as repeat his lines, which summed up the plot. This is a traditional feature of the original play as it used to be a traveling performance and passers by who stopped to watch could pick up the storyline. Considering that this set and audience are stationary, the stops in action for a lengthy breath of dialogue slow a fast play down.

The production has added several of its own ridiculous touches, though some seemed to diminish actual acting. While the idea is to be over-the-top, silly and foolhardy, it is very easy to seem forced and overbearing. Senseless and comically unwarranted screaming helps sparingly to move scenes in low plot points, but it doesn’t translate particularly well to the theatre and things turn to a jumble on the stage as well as in the audience’s ears. Still, it’s not hard to appreciate a good bit a choreographed chaos, and “Braggart Soldier” runs amuck with cartoon absurdity.

Apparently Roman comedic sensibilities weren’t as highbrow as their history might suggest, if Plautus had a modern equivalent it’d likely be director Rob Reiner, whose films “The Princess Bride” and “Spinal Tap” stand as lessons in farce.

“Braggart Soldier” has no shortage of penis jokes, fart jokes, drunks, insatiable lovers, dimwits, hand puppets, misogyny, ironic witticisms, groping, subtle threats of castration, flogging and prostitutes. With these comedy standards as a base, the production had a field day winding up the homeruns.

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