The biblical story of King Saul is retold in this well-choreographed production, directed by Jason Slavick. Saul (Glen Moore) is chosen by the prophet Sam (Rebecca Lehrhoff) to be the first king of Israel, but is he the greatest? The “bumbleheads”, or common people, seem to think so at first, but they’re just a bunch of fickle clowns. Literally. Apparently, God is just as fickle and abandons Saul for D (Veronica Barron) who defeats the offstage Goliath. The show shifts from styrofoam noodle comedy to melodramatic stage combat display, and all ends in tragedy.
Between the ancient story, the artful clowning, and the spacy synth score (Jay Mobley), a unique effect is created. Some of it is a little on-the-nose: from the actual red noses the bumbles wear to the lyrics describing exactly what is going on (“They don’t love you anymore. They found someone better”). Some of the writing is a bit hackneyed (“You are not my blood!”), or downright bizarre (“Dolt F***er!”), but there are some clever bible jokes as well. (The future king is found “looking for some ass”). The complex motion and unity of the cast is fantastic throughout, and there are some impressive high kicks from the very pregnant Rachel Weise. Unfortunately, we never get close to the king, so we never really understand if he was great, or good, or just lucky.
[Arden Theater, 40 N 2nd St.] September 9–12, 2016; fringearts.com/who-would-be-king/.