Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Only a heartless bastard would remain unmoved hearing a son tell his mother, “I’m sorry I said all those things…and ass-bumped you.” And so it goes in Cherry Red Productions’ taboo-heavy Spamlet, whose murder and dirty mayhem must be excusable, because they’re borrowed from the Bard. The play tells the tale of Gert (Kate Debelack), a pink-haired drone at the Schpam factory whose husband has been suspiciously killed in a freak Schpam accident. Gert has since has adopted a motto of Vagina dentata and now feels free to pursue her dream of becoming a rock star. Her son, Hamlet (Gabriel Fry), learns this news from the ghost of his father himself, as he and his blockhead cousin Hercules (John Tweel) return home from college—”home” consisting of a run-down apartment that Gert shares with her pedophiliac sister, Dolores (Barbara Catrett), also a packer of Schpam. Other twisted players in the story include Ohfahfahfah (Patricia Penn), an Indian exchange student who has to stop screwing Hercules when Dolores adopts her; Ned (Richard Renfield), Dolores’ teenage, mulleted boyfriend; and Fritz (Ian Allen, also Cherry Red’s artistic director), the king of Schpam, father of Ned, and suspected Nazi who wants to share his meaty monarchy with Gert. And did I mention that it’s a musical? Spamlet packs more jokes into its two hours than an entire season of Saturday Night Live, its singers are surprisingly capable, and the scenes are short ‘n’ sweet enough to make you forget about being cramped into a tight row of wooden chairs at the Warehouse Next Door, the theater company’s new main space. Debelack is a funny, ferocious presence as the knows-what-she-wants Gert (when questioned why she seems to hardly miss her husband, she responds, “Fuck me for wanting a little independence!”); another audience-pleaser is Allen, with a delightfully stupid German accent and always-ramrod mannerisms regardless of whether Fritz is seducing Gert or stomping around the factory. The humor is largely punny and obvious but nearly always works, and between the catfights, show-tune ripoffs, and nudity (if Basic Instinct shocked you, brace yourself for the live show), there’s a little something for everyone. Including fake gore: Unless you want to scare some people on the Metro ride home, do yourself a favor and take advantage of the trash bags offered at the start of the show. —Tricia Olszewski