'M' feels like a double dose of everything that’s great about a Ryan Landry production.
Landry, the creator and driving force behind local cult favorite theater company the Gold Dust Orphans, not only spoofs the 1930s film noir classic, but also uses it as a framework for a blisteringly funny lampooning of the theater world. A Nazi-like director, absentee playwright, outlandish actors, stage hands, ushers, and a rather unappealing critic all make quite a show out of a play about putting on a show.
And since this is Landry at his best, you can expect men in drag, puppets, sequins, feathers, larger-than-life props, brilliant double entendres and enough naughtiness to give Huntington Theatre Company subscribers plenty to talk about on the way home.
Only Landry could turn a story about a child killer into a crazy onstage romp at turns filled with laughter, moments of eery discomfort and even a bit of romance through a deftly wrought storyline and big, glittery song-and-dance numbers. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something completely unexpected hits the stage.
Much of the fun in this production can be attributed to the earnestness of its ensemble. Larry Coen delivers one of his finest performances to date as The Pig (not to mention a couple of supporting roles). Laura Latrielle is equally impressive as Schlitz et. al. while David Drake is disturbingly funny as the aformentioned German director, Fritz.
Additionally, Ellen Adair perfectly captures the theatrical essence of The Woman and Karen MacDonald (as the title M) proves, once again, that she can do no wrong onstage.
David Remedios’ sound and music serve to enhance and bolster both the mystery and the silliness of the piece. Scott Martino’s costumes are flawless and Jon Savage’s set superb.
Director Caitlin Lowans nicely executes Landry’s offbeat vision. Kudos to the Huntington Theatre Company for bringing it all to life.