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The Ring Cycle

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The Ring Cycle, The Musical, at ImprovOlympic. Pompous and over 20 hours long, Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle cries out to be skewered. And it has been many times, in Anna Russell's witty one-woman rendition, for example, and in Charles Ludlam's deliciously malicious Der Ring Gott Farblonjet. Now there's Jeff Goode and Larrance Fingerhut's lame, sloppy parody. The premise is that we're watching an awkward, amateurish four-person troupe attempt to perform the whole four-opera sequence in 90 minutes--but these actors' limp rendition is indistinguishable from the satirical target.

Playwright Goode (who managed to find something new to say even about Christmas in The Eight: Reindeer Monologues) strains to say anything even remotely entertaining about Wagner, grand opera, the Norse gods, and the Ring's ludicrous story line. Fingerhut's musical parody likewise leans heavily on the tired idea that the music director is incompetent and the cast don't have the chops to sing Wagner. All the show is missing is a laugh track to underline every nonjoke.

Goode and Fingerhut don't get much help from director Jennifer Shepard, whose noisy, undisciplined production transforms what might at least have been a silly, mildly amusing series of opera high jinks into a show that most high school drama clubs would be embarrassed to put on. Protecting the relatively innocent, I won't mention cast members by name.

--Jack Helbig

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