In pop-cultural lore, the hero is always a loner and a depressive—not so far off in temperament, it often seems, from the villainy he thwarts. It is a theme the House Theatre has been chewing over—and chewing the scenery of—in a trilogy of plays that rather numbingly retell the same story over and over again, each time set against a different backdrop. The first (and most successful, in my opinion) was “San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid,” a Wild West rockabilly tale of crime, romance and campfire humor. “Curse of the Crying Heart,” was next, set in feudal Japan. The last installment, “Valentine Victorious,” (currently at the Viaduct through March) is planted in a 1930s comic-book universe of noir, organized crime and semi-snappy dialogue. But like its predecessors, the show is overstuffed with narrative—unwieldy and scattered—the antithesis of the self-contained panels and efficient storytelling of the comic-book milieu. It would have been nice to see this company and director Dennis Watkins finally reign in their creative instincts and tighten things up with few sharp, delineated corners. As it is, the House clings to its clunky esthetic, which is quickly losing its appeal. On the plus side, the non-set set—basically, a bare bones warehouse—is a nice, minimalist touch. And Jake Minton’s performance as the one good guy cop finds just the right balance between send-up and seriousness. All three of the Valentine plays are musicals, though a better description would be plays with pop-song drop-ins. The music is by Kevin O’Donnell, who has a cunning way with melody and a grasp on the sublime power of the crescendo. Dressed in an old-school tux with peaked lapels, he leads the band from his drum set. “Despite the abundance of guns, chains pipes…and thermo-nuclear explosives,” his bio reads, “Kevin O’Donnell’s drumsticks reign supreme as the deadliest weapons in the show.” I would have to agree. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.