SACRED FOOLS | MAINSTAGE 2004 - Midnight Brainwash Revival

"Shakespeare on mushrooms!" - L.A. Weekly (Recommended!)
"A sensational cast... near perfect!" - L.A. Times (Recommended!)
"It's different.  It's invigorating." - BackStage West (Critic's Pick!)
"Smart, original and bizarrely funny!" - L.A. Splash
"Unique and vivid... extremely entertaining!" -Maestro Arts & Reviews
"Irreverent, timely, fast-paced and funny!" - Pasadena Weekly
"If you thought Shakespeare was outdated, then guess again!" -Center Stage, KXLU FM

Nominated for a 2004 L.A. Weekly Award
& Recipient of a 2004 Garland Award Honorable Mention
for BEST SET DESIGN (M.E. Dunn)!


Sacred Fools Theater Company Presents
The Southern USA Premiere of...

by Kirk Wood Bromley
directed by Alexander Yannis Stephano
In this delightful and nasty verse play from the writer/director team that brought you Want's Unwish'd Work and Icarus & Aria, the fate of the Southwestern desert is at stake, gambled over by the nefarious real estate developer Mordecon, that ol' trickster Coyote, a pair of deranged truckers, and others...


On the Mainstage...
May 20 - June 26, 2004
Thursdays-Saturdays @ 8pm
Tickets - $15
Reservations - 310 281 8337
purchase tickets online!

L-R: Annie Abrams,
Joe Jordan & Philip Wofford
Photo: Alexander Yannis Stephano


Annie Abrams, Gary Ballard, Ted DeVirgilis,
M.E. Dunn, Dan Etheridge, Eric Giancoli,
Jacy Gross, Adam Harrington, Christopher Paul Hart,
Kyle Ingleman, Diana Jellinek, Joe Jordan, Liesel Kopp,
Paul Plunkett, Mark McClain Wilson, Philip Wofford
and (on special nights) Bryan Bellomo,
Bruno Oliver and Yuri Lowenthal!


Producer - A.Y. Stephano
Set & Costume Designer - M.E. Dunn
Lighting Designer - Jason Mullen
Sound Designer - Mark McClain Wilson
Prop Master - C.M. Gonzalez
Stage Manager - Becky Harrison
Assistant Stage Manager - John Mitchell
Graphic Design - Mark Tapio Kines



L.A. Times (Recommended!)

Evil is afoot at 'Midnight'

"I self-destruct on explanation" is the unanswerable disclaimer of two characters in Kirk Wood Bromley's dizzyingly word-crammed crackpot cartoon "Midnight Brainwash Revival." This might be Bromley's defense too, since his effusively kooky writing defies close scrutiny, even as his high-wire wordplay rewards amused attention. Indeed, with a sensational cast under director Alexander Yannis Stephano's expert guidance, "Midnight" seesaws with near-perfect balance between gleeful scatology and tongue-twisting linguistic trickery — something like an episode of "South Park" as written by Mac Wellman.

The sleepy desert town of Moab, Utah — which in reality as in the play sits near megatons of buried nuclear waste — is under threat from an evil developer with a pesky traveling tumor and, in Christopher Paul Hart's droll performance, a ticklish verbal dexterity.

An alliance with Moab's right-wing mayor (Dan Etheridge) stumbles when a hippie huckster (Joe Jordan) slips the mayor a funny cigar. And the plot to buy the land from its citified heir (Eric Giancoli) snags on the resistance of his conscientious sister (Jacy Gross) and the pretty persuasion of a local cowboy (Liesel Kopp).

Along the way we meet a pair of hapless mercenaries (Paul Plunkett, Mark McClain Wilson), a confused cross-dresser (Ted DeVirgilis), a trio of airhead tourists (Gary Ballard, M.E. Dunn, Annie Abrams), a strident city broad (Diana Jellinek), a ditzy flunkie (Philip Wofford), a soft-hearted cop (Adam Harrington) and a shape-shifting trickster (Kyle Ingleman).

Scurrying tirelessly around Dunn's Wile E. Coyote set, this motley bunch nails Bromley's animated métier with utter conviction, if not explication.

-- Rob Kendt
L.A. Times

BackStage West (Critic's Pick!)

It's different. It's invigorating. It ranges from loftiest wordplay to crudest gags. Its playwright, Kirk Wood Bromley, is either a genius or a man with way too much time on his hands. Written in iambic pentameter, punny, loaded with eccentric characters, directed with vibrancy by Alexander Yannis Stephano, the production allows its audience not one moment of downtime--and that's going quite a distance, even for those of us who think we've seen it all.

Just don't go looking for insight into the human condition, a balanced viewpoint about its themes--of greed, environmental conservation, and being oneself--or, unfortunately, uniformly skilled acting. Much of the troupe is ideally suited to the styles here. Starting with Dan Etheridge in a delectably livewire performance as a reactionary lawyer, the energy skyrockets soon into the evening and miraculously stays there for the most part. Christopher Paul Hart not only delivers the poetic meter with ease but also delves with body and soul into his character--an evil developer, perhaps bionic, perhaps alien, perhaps we're thinking too much--as his skin bubbles with bursting tumors (one of the outstandingly imagined and rendered costumes by M.E. Dunn). As the aging hippie, Joe Jordan ignites his scenes even more quickly than he lights his rolled leaves of, well, uncertain botany. Ted DeVirgilis plays a cross-dressed man with skill and warmth. Paul Plunkett and Mark McClain Wilson are goons on the loose whose shenanigans cause us to experience a bizarre mixture of gagging and giggling.

Sure, Kyle Ingleman gets his own character or two, but the gems of his performance come with his fourth-wall-breaking scene changes. The set (Dunn again)--including the scenic expanse of the Utah desert, the raggedness of a trailer park, and the utility of a urinal--is not only fun, funny, and malleable but also seems refreshingly low-cost. The sound design (Wilson) is also one of the stars here, offering original music as well as aural gags--from punches thrown to prolonged micturition.

But some of the onstage actors lack the liveliness of their cohorts and thereby lessen the punch of the production. Otherwise, on the whole, this evening is unique. And in L.A. theatre, that might be the highest praise.

-- Dany Margolies
BackStage West

L.A. Weekly (Recommended!)

Were Shakespeare on mushrooms, this just might be the concoction he’d craft in order to rail against greed, avarice and environmental degradation. Kirk Wood Bromley’s farce concerns thwarted romance, concealed identities and familial backstabbing, and boasts a script in iambic pentameter. When a wealthy Utah patriarch is presumed dead, his son, Kyrin (Eric Giancolli), wants to develop the family’s vast desert lands with the aid of the father’s fundamentalist Christian lawyer — aptly named Swagart (Dan Etheridge) — and the sleazy real estate developer Mordecon (Christopher Paul Hart), whose evil knows no bounds. Meanwhile, Kyrin’s sister, Serena (Jacy Gross), and hippie uncle, Hooch (Joe Jordan), want the land left untouched and pristine as always. The eventual struggle involves such loonies as an escaped convict with a pubic-hair phobia (a hilariously manic Paul Plunkett), the comely bed-and-breakfast owner, Amanda (Ted DeVirgilis), on whom Mordecon has carnal designs, and the trickster Coyote (Kyle Ingleman), who is playing both ends of the desert. Under Alexander Yannis Stephano’s breakneck direction, the cast portrays Bromley’s ludicrous characters with such overblown dedication, their portrayals at times grow tiresome. M.E. Dunn designed the set, an inspired piece of work that evokes the barren but beautiful Utah landscape.

-- Martín Hernández
L.A. Weekly

Center Stage - KXLU, 88.9 FM (Transcript)

If you thought Shakespeare was outdated, then guess again. Playwright Kirk Wood Bromley throws the classical Bard’s followers for a loop with the Midnight Brainwash Revival, a witty uproarious and modern comedy written in iambic pentameter. It is a true comedy of errors that occurs in the mountains of Moab, Utah. The rich family has reunited because the patriarch has disappeared. The son Kyrin is back from the big city with his cosmopolitan lady, Gemma, and big plans. His sister, Serena, is incensed that she has no place in the inheritance left by their father and now is also displaced. Their uncle Hooch is mystifying tourists and a smart-mouthed lawyer named Swagart into believing a savior roams these hills, and all this while a man named Amanda is about to find an answer. A cop falls into the underhanded dealings of a psychotic and a trucker, a trickster and disguised gal Friday are planning a defense, while the rich arch enemy, an egotistical and mega-maniacal of arch type vain, complete with minions, is plotting to blow the place sky high with la bomba.

The cast is impeccable. Both major and minor parts are played with careful and comedic detail. They throw themselves into the mad-cap world and characters with such zeal that every one of Bromley’s curveballs becomes more enjoyable. Special recognition goes to Christopher Paul Hart, who plays the villainous Mordecon Contraveno and Kyle Inglemen as Coyote.  Whether demanding a hand job, wooing an unwilling lady, or bemoaning his unfortunate childhood or mobile tumor, Hart enters into each scene with gusto and that certain batty swagger that makes him lovable but still evil.  While Ingleman as the play’s trickster sets dynamic personas from old man to Latina bombshell so easily it seems impossible that all the parts belong to one actor. Director Alexander Yannis Stephano has commanded the stage. He deftly shuffles his large and enthusiastic cast over the cartoon like set designs of M.E. Dunn, which then lead through caves, Amanda’s Hotel, or Hooch’s trailer. The sound effects design by Mark McClain Wilson also adds to the nuttiness of the entire ensemble. However, the play's overall wackiness is reminiscent of Shakespearean elements that include a large cast, mistaken identities, confused lovers and heroes and villains, but with its own eloquence, wit and time period. The theater may be infinite, may be finite, but Bromley’s Moab futa(?), in this production, become real, take shape, and go off in to the horizon.

Midnight Brainwash is playing at the Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood until June 26th. For more information you can go to This is Sarah Dzida with Center Stage.

-- Sarah Dzida

L.A. Splash

Who wouldn’t want to hear a bunch of rich Utah folk argue about money, god, talking tumors, marijuana and cross dressing in iambic pentameter?

Midnight Brainwash Revival, by the acclaimed playwright Kirk Wood Bromley, is an offbeat jam-packed comedy that blends a multitude of different genres, time periods and oddball characters into a lot of convoluted fun.

The stage is set as Swagart, the mayor and reverend of Moab, announces that the father of the wealthy Ridge clan is missing and presumed dead. The will states that the father’s total assets will go to his son Kirin, while his daughter Serena has been left nothing.

With the encouragement of his New York city-slicker girlfriend, Kirin agrees to sell his father’s land to the maniacal, absurdly narcissistic developer Mordecan who plans to commercialize the pristine property. Although Serena is wholly against Mordecan’s plan, she soon becomes the target of his bizarre affections.

The father’s hippie brother also lives on the land and maintains his free-loving, pot-smoking lifestyle by conning desperate messiah-seeking tourists. And to complicate matters further, the cast is rounded out by a hair obsessed nuclear terrorist, a few cross dressers, Modecon’s cult-like staff and a shape shifting coyote.

What is most impressive about this comedy is that it’s written in the verse and style of a Shakespearean comedy while taking place in a small town in modern day Utah. Although at first the lines sound affected and slightly hard to understand, once the listener gets into the rhythms of the actors, it is quite impressive how they incorporate so much of the mid-western dialect into iambic pentameter. Most of the lines are filled with Shakespeare-style puns and word play, which at times are brilliant and at times childishly bizarre.

One of the highlights of the production is the manic coyote, played by Kyle Ingleman, who resembles a southwestern fur-covered Puck running around the mountains causing mischief and screwball magic. Also in Shakespearian tradition, there are a number of cross-dressing romances, a dramatically spurned child, and more than a few town idiots who provide comic relief. The actors sing, dance and really work hard to make sure the audience has a good time.

The comedy at times shifts into a more dramatic gear, and while this is typical of Shakespeare’s style, the play is so grossly over-the top and the characters are so stereotyped that the serious moments cannot create real emotion. The more dramatic second act felt slightly scattered and the play was too long, running over 3 hours.

Overall, however, the cast is likeable and the show is crammed with a zany energy. Christopher Paul Heart plays Mordecon with a devilish zest. Swagart, played by the dynamic Dan Ethridge, also amps up the show with his delusional belief in himself as the next messiah.

Midnight Brainwash Revival is smart, original and bizarrely funny.

-- Katie Rosen
L.A. Splash

Maestro Arts & Reviews

The Ridge family's land is at stake. When the patriarch is presumed dead and the oldest son decides to sell the Moab Utah wilderness to a shark investor/mad man who also leads the local cult. Mardecon, feverishly played by Christopher Paul Hart, wants to develop the land into strip malls... that and eradicate all body hair. But that's not the only loon in town. The hippie squatters combined with the town's corrupt leader, religious tourists and nuclear terrorists round out the madness. Thank goodness there is the sly coyote, who's masterful disguises enable him to walk his way into any situation and manipulate the town folk out of self destruction. And this is all done in iambic pentameter. 

Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents Midnight Brainwash Revival, an original work by Kirk Wood Bromley (the only contemporary American playwright working consistently in iambic pentameter) with direction by Alexander Yannis Stephano. Bromley's unique and vivid characters are extremely entertaining to watch and you never know what's coming next in this modern melodrama. The strong ensemble cast includes Annie Abrams, Gary Ballard, Ted DeVirgilis, M.E. Dunn, Dan Etheridge, Eric Giancoli, Jacy Gross, Adam Harrington, Kyle Ingleman, Diana Jellinek, Joe Jordan, Liesel Kopp, Yuri Lowenthal, Bruno Oliver, Paul Plunkett, Mark McClain Wilson and Philip Wofford. The Sacred Fools Theatre Company has a fine reputation of using their stage space to it's full potential. Midnight Brainwash Revival is without exception. We're taken from the vast expanses of a stark desert to a hotel room and local watering hole and then to catacombs; all transitions lasting mere moments. Subtle lighting design by Jason Mullen and sound by Mark McClain Wilson enhanced the sets and costumes by Ovation Award-winning designer M.E. Dunn.

-- R. Harker
Maestro Arts & Reviews

Pasadena Weekly

Stay Up for ‘Midnight Brainwash Revival’ at Sacred Fools

It’s a shame that more people have not found “ Midnight Brainwash Revival,” a rambunctious romp at Sacred Fools in Hollywood. The show is irreverent, timely, fast-paced and funny. Writer Kirk Wood Bromley, known for his great spoofs on Shakespeare’s comedies, has set his play in iambic pentameter. But the themes are as current as last week’s smog alert.

Bromley sets “Revival” in the popular off-road destination of Moab, Utah. His story revolves around one family that owns most of the desert terrain. The patriarch is missing and an unscrupulous religious cult figure, Mordecon (an officious Christopher Paul Hart), has designs on the land and the family’s beautiful daughter, Serena (Jacy Gross). But all the townspeople unite behind his sister to foil his plans. Ultimately, the romantic pairs are sorted out, justice prevails and the villain foiled; our deserts remain preserved for the next SUV rally.

The cast is made up of skilled Shakespearean actors clearly having fun with language and the hi-jinks prescribed for them. The set, designed and built by the company, sports a backdrop glowing with a luminescent moon. Abundant songs keep the laughter going.

-- Leigh Kennicott
Pasadena Weekly


Hellenic Journal

Alexander Yannis Stephano doesn’t have much time for his favorite sport, swimming. He has just completed work on directing ‘Midnight Brainwash Revival’ at the Sacred Fools Theater Company, a multi-level (19 actors with many playing different roles) fast-paced comedic tour-de-force of wit and wisdom which revels in confusion both sexuality and romantic. It defends the ecology against rapacious developers, satirizes fake religious revelations and packs all that and more into two and a half hours. Among the talented cast, Christopher Paul Hart stands out, proving that a quiet, rapier-like delivery is always effective.

For something different, director Stephano will accompany the NBC production team when it covers the events at the Olympic Games. This is a double bonus as he will be in Athens for an extensive family gathering (his father is from the north of Greece; his mother, Athens); not the least of his joys will be to show off his and his wife Therese’s 18-month son Apollo. And of course he intends to get some swimming in.

-- Mavis Manus
Hellenic Journal