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(Southwest Premiere)
By Jamie Morris

Uptown Players

Directed by Linda Leonard


Mathew Butler
Austin Tiddle
Mikey Abrams

Reviewed Performance: 5/10/2012

Reviewed by Christopher Soden, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Playing at the Rose Room on Cedar Springs is a wonderfully funny, cheerfully goofy spoof on the Blockbuster, Oscar-winning thriller, Silence of the Lambs. Whether you are a devoted fan of the film that made Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) America's favorite serial killer, and Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) the excruciatingly vulnerable "G-Man" we were all rooting for, or would never see it again, under any circumstances, The Silence of the Clams will provide two hours of delightfully ridiculous satire.

Spinning off the careful gravitas of the source material (and it's wickedly subversive subtext) "Clams" takes each step in its turn, sometimes aiming for the inspired groaner, and others changing barely a word of dialogue. But make no mistake, whether it takes jabs at poor, adorable Anderson Cooper, or shameless and endlessly scurrilous references to female genitalia, is clever, raucous diversion.

Silence of the Clams starts out with a filmed sequence of Clarice Startling, running the FBI training route, but not too proud to go rooting through a public garbage receptacle for a snack. Clarice (Austin Tindle) is coming along nicely as an novice agent, though she still struggles with ignoring a well-timed, unsettling outburst ( i.e. "Boo!"). Her boss, Crawford, informs her she must confront the horrendous, "cannibalistic," Hannibal Lichter, tapping his genius for criminal depravity, in hopes of catching the notorious "Beaver Bob."

Props to Dennis Canright for creating a cavernous cell, nearly as creepy as the film's. Clarice must endure Hannibal's insidious mind games, sprinkled with hints about Beaver's pathology. Playwright Jamie Morris clearly loves the original screenplay, or perhaps the closer he cleaves to imitation, the more hilarious the results. Morris also includes numerous queer culture references that only make the proceedings more delicious.

Directed by fabulous dancer and actor, Linda Leonard, features only three performers : Mikey Abrams, Matthew Butler and Austin Tindle, who play all the different characters(?!) with zippy, zany dash. They never seem frantic or rushed, but definitely feel effusive and brimming with urgency. Leonard paces them and the gags well, letting the daffy energy carry the text. Matthew Butler is irresistible as "Hannibal" recreating Hopkins' other-worldly, effete intonations with impressive accuracy. Mikey Abrams must surely be subsisting on a diet of Red Bull, Mountain Dew and (I hope) Spirutein to manage the numerous characters he wields with such originality and verve. Austin Tindle certainly deserves special recognition for his drag (debut?) as Clarice Starling. His husky, whispery, Southern accent, combined with Clarice's efforts to read with appropriate femininity made for exquisitely amusing results.

Uptown Players proudly presents The Silence of the Clams (by Jamie Morris) playing April 27th - May 20th, 2012, at The Rose Room / S4 Night Club, 3911 Cedar Springs, Dallas, Texas 75219. 214-219-2718.