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Theater Review: “Bullshot Crummond”

“Bullshot Crummond” plays through April 20, 2019 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Avenue (near F Street), Chula Vista.
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

You might suspect you’re in trouble when a glance at the program reveals no less than five playwrights. And as the show progresses, you’ll note that the script sounds like it was pasted together from jokes rejected by better writers.

It’s “Bullshot Crummond,” a wild, crazy (and frankly dopey) parody of a 1930s pulp-fiction character named Capt. Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond. Supposedly a World War I veteran with amazing crime-solving skills, Drummond was the star of H. C. McNeile’s novels, short stories, plays and even a film. “Bullshot Crummond” spoofs all of these genres (but most notably detective films, in the form of tossed props and a screen playing credits at the rear of the playing area).

Playing through April 20 at OnStage Playhouse (why, I’ll never know), “Bullshot Crummond” lists Ron House, Alan Shearman, Diane (Diz) White, John Neville Andrews and Derek Cunningham as the perpetrators, “based on an idea by Ron House and Diz White.”

Hugh “Bullshot” Crummond (a hapless hero with more daring than skill) is played (fortunately, with plenty of skill) by Jeff Hillman.

Crummond has a nemesis in nefarious, bald German Otto Von Brunno, intent on taking over the world – or at least wrecking the international diamond market with a manufactured fake whose formula is known only to a famous scientist named Fenton. The plot is to wrest said formula from the unsuspecting Fenton.

Played with evil relish by Joshua Kent, Von Brunno is aided by his mistress Lenya (or is she his wife? No matter), played with femme fatale looks and  Dietrich-like exhaustion by Katelyn Slater.

I’d be tired too, if I had to spend much time around Otto and his killer falcon named Fritz. But she perks up when he flashes the fake sparkler, and ponders the result of wrecking the market: “Thus causing mass unemployment, starvation, hunger, poverty and death to thousands of innocent people. When can we begin?

Need I say more?

The target Fenton (and at last count, four other characters, including Crummond’s friend Algy, a Scotland Yard inspector and a butler) are played with exquisite speed, chameleon-like mutability and never a mix-up by Russell Clements, in a truly amazing performance.

Stagecraft, set, costumes, sound and lighting are nicely handled (if one can describe anything about this show as “nice”) by director Paul Morgavo, Duane McGregor, Lisa Burgess, Steve Murdock and Mio Rose.

Let’s face it, “Bullshot” has little to recommend it as theater. It does a bit better taken as parody – if your taste runs to the corny. See this one at your own risk.

The details

“Bullshot Crummond” plays through April 20, 2019 at OnStage Playhouse, 291 Third Avenue (near F Street), Chula Vista.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (619) 422-7787 or www.onstageplayhouse.org