Reviewed by Sarah Krasnow
Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants builds off a fairy tale foundation: an evil king, a banished hero, love that transcends social barriers, and so on. Here, Prince Trevor represents our banished hero, the ribald twist being that he was kicked out of his kingdom for being gay and is now questing to reunite with his true love, Toby, the stable boy. Along the way, he and his nymphomaniacal servant pick up some new friends: Dymphna the Slut, Daniel the Rustic Feralist, Lynetta the (ahem) accommodating lady-in-waiting, and the Elephants of Style, played by actors with little besides their faces covered.
Replacing a G-rated tale with adults-only material isn’t new, but playwright Duncan Pflaster’s zany versions of the usual bedtime story suspects and skillful combinations of the flowery with the vulgar make for fresh, original gags. (Wait ‘til you see what’s hidden in the forbidden ballroom.) And amidst all the debauchery, the loveable cast of Prince Trevor delivers every joke, whether an intricate play on words or an exploding expletive, with such sweet-faced sincerity, they often catch us by surprise. Rather than nodding and winking, they wholly inhabit this fantasy world, and each utterance of the word “queer” by a stern medieval king gets that many more startled giggles.
Of course, sweet-faced sincerity doesn’t guarantee precision. Prince Trevor gets funnier and funnier as it goes, but it takes a moment to get rolling, and it has its up and downs. The first scene is by far the weakest: it deals with two minor characters and sets up none of the wicked silliness to come. And throughout the production, the actors feed off the audience’s laughter and the energy of the more frenzied scenes, which results in some unevenness. However, amateurishness adds a certain charm to this most-fractured fairy tale, where stuffy rules don’t apply.
Theatergoers who attend Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants should expect extremes. If they can take what this play dishes out, they’ll be treated to the belly laughs the right rhymed couplet/castration joke can produce.
Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants (90 mins, no intermission)
Presented by Midtown International Theatre Festival
June Havoc Theater @ Abington Performing Arts Complex (312 West 36th Street)
Tickets (212-279-4200): $18.00
Performances: Tuesday, July 22nd, 6:30pm; Friday, July 25th, 9:30pm; Monday, July 28th, 8:30pm; Saturday, August 2nd, 9:30pm