Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble just might be the most avant-garde local theater group. Its namesake, Joseph Pujol (aka “le Petomane”), performed at the Moulin Rouge. His act? Using his abnormal anus to pass flatus in unusual ways. The group admires Pujol because he took what talent he had and ran with it. They create plays as an ensemble, relying heavily on broad physical comedy.
Captain Ka-Blam (Kyle Ware) is a naïve superhero with a sidekick, Kris (Abigail Maupin). Imagine the dynamic duo, but both resembling Robin more than Batman. They fight the evil Fearmonger (Gregory Maupin) and rescue the intrepid ace reporter, Carol (Kristie Rolape). In a series of skits, the group reenacts Ka-Blam’s most beloved comic strips in an homage to 1940s radio and comics. The back-story device is fresh: The actors mime their roles as their voices are heard on an old-fashioned radio. Ka-Blam trusts everyone, and everyone trusts him. As Ka-Blam proclaims, “Fear knows no trust, and trust knows no fear,” the audience, and the other characters, are baffled.
In “Antitrust,” Ka-Blam loses his soul to a tennis ball the Fearmonger insidiously juggles in one hand. He wonders where trust resides without a soul, and is reduced to spouting Bukowski-like poetry in a seedy bar.
The troupe brilliantly portrays comic-book panels in freeze-frame. Ware and Gregory Maupin are elegant in their slow-motion fight scenes. Abigail Maupin is catlike in her dual roles (as Kris and her alter ego, the evil Miss Psych-out). Kristie Rolape’s facial expressions are appropriately over-the-top in reaction to the bizarre happenings. Ware cleverly portrays his character as the ultimate hero. Gregory Maupin is frightening as the evil Fearmonger. In the hilarious finale, the troupe dances to a Britney Spears song while throwing punches.
As a bonus, the troupe presents Steve Ochs’ short film, “Le Petomane: Parti Avec Le Vent,” a biography of you-know-who, the original performance artist.