Sharp crew delivers a funny send-up of Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby Doo cartoon
A teen couple is seated on a couch.
He’s trying to get her “in the mood.” She’s fending off his moves, worried by the dark and spooky expanse of the old movie theater they’re situated in. And the odd sounds she thinks she hears echoing from somewhere both far and near. She huddles herself on the couch while lover-boy stands and attempts to spark a number. Someone—or something—is lurking behind the couch. Waiting.
It’s a beginning straight out of a teen slasher flick.
However, in this case, it is actually the opening scene from Sküby-Dü, a fairly accurate and funny parody of the old ‘70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon about four ghost-busting teenagers and their “talking” Great Dane, the titular Scooby Doo. I put “talking” in quotations because this dog’s speech is impeded by a tendency to insert R’s before each word—"Scooby Doo,” for instance, becomes “Rooby Roo.” In spite of being a big scaredy-cat, Scooby Doo often is the one who inadvertently captures the “ghost” and solves the mystery. I put “ghost” in quotations because the fiend almost always winds up being a masquerading crook attempting to scare snoops away from his illegal operations. Referring to his thwarted schemes, the captured creep always utters the now immortalized words, “And it would have worked, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!”
In this stage adaptation, Craig Blamer’s script places the action within its actual location—the old Senator Theatre in Chico. The kids of Mystery, Inc. are just passing through and happen to have heard of the phantom that haunts the venerable venue (an actual Chico legend, as it happens). The gang suddenly finds itself “real,” no longer mere two-dimensional drawings. And both Blamer’s script and the actors have a lot of fun with this concept, exploring red-headed bombshell Daphne’s previously thwarted sexual appetites, bookworm Velma’s own curious leanings, jock/leader Freddie’s general cluelessness, and the very strange relationship between perpetually hungry hippie Shaggy and his doggie twin Sküby-Dü. Rounding things out are a security guard called “Ramsey” (because, explains the guard, it sounds like a “cop’s name"), the theater manager “DNA,” an old man who “came with the place,” the teen whose date got grabbed, and the phantom itself—a dark figure in a heavy coat, its face obscured by goggles and mummy-like wrappings.
Elizabeth Kollings brings a comic sexiness to Daphne as she realizes her nymphomania (appropriate for somebody named for a nymph once pursued by Greek sun god Apollo). Jocelyn Stringer is good as Velma. It takes this character a little longer to warm to her now “real” body, but once she does…. As jock Freddie, Slim Barkowska is appropriately two-dimensional. This is the only character in the play that remains pretty much as he is in the cartoon—and the results are quite funny.
By far the best, however, are Eli Bird and local comedian John Bertoli as Shaggy and Sküby-Dü, respectively. Each of these gifted mimics has his character down—Bird with Shaggy’s stance and raspy voice and Bertoli with Sküby’s pseudo-canine posturings and R-riddled verbalizations. The actors manage a palpable friendship between the characters, often with hysterical results: The funniest scene in the show is when Sküby accidentally walks in on a cozy Shaggy and Velma. Bertoli responds like a two-timed girlfriend, calling to task the whole “boy and his dog” concept in one terrifically funny instance.
The denouement is the show’s weakest point, and so it was, too, with the cartoons. But overall this is one of the better locally produced parodies to hit the stage in a long time. I give it two paws up and one happy yelp of "Rüby, rüby-rü!"