The True Deadliest Game of Death: A Kung Fu Musical!, Sulacco Productions, at Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. Do kung fu movie fans seek the spiritual truth behind martial arts, or do they just want to see whose ass gets kicked? If kicking's the thing, there's plenty of it in this parody of the "good bashing evil while pursuing enlightenment" formula. Here "Grasshopper" is young Jenny Quick-Kick (Heather Elam), a confused Gen-Xer whom fate brings to the Temple of Frogs when her future looks bleak: she has a dance/puppetry degree and a Reagan-worshiping boyfriend. After three years of training, Quick-Kick must defend the temple's honor against its nemesis, Dr. Deth (played by understudy Ghuon "Max" Chung), in the ultimate Tournament of Death.
In a play like this, the audience has to learn only enough about the characters to care whether they live or die. The cast achieves that goal and throws in a comic musical score and hilarious rips on 70s action heroes and MTV VJs (featuring funny, energetic performances by Kit Helton, Paula Lopez, and Anthony Micheletti). But what matters most is the fighting itself. David Gene Gregory and Richard Gilbert have choreographed the moves beautifully. Now the actors need to follow the examples of Frederick Garcia (as sports-legend wannabe Max Shure) and Mary Archibold (as deadly villain Y2K) and fight as though they really mean it. A tour jeté never killed anyone. --Kim Wilson