Animal instincts


“Yeah, that’s it, Morgan Fairchild!”

“Yeah, that’s it, Morgan Fairchild!”

Photo courtesy of Big Idea Theatre

8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; $10-$20; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; Through October 29.
Rated 5.0

Trevor, the farcical story of a performing chimpanzee in the waning days of his career, is a winning Big Idea Theatre production in both concept and execution. Playwright Nick Jones’ plot sounds incredibly ludicrous—Trevor is a showbiz chimp with a couple of bit parts under his belt who bitterly bemoans his stalled career while his human caretaker tries to deal with his angry outbursts. However, due to clever writing and a gifted, cohesive cast, Trevor is a fascinating, intriguing and damn funny farce.

What makes this play so witty and thought-provoking is not only its sharp deadpan humor, but also the way it explores the complexity of real communication, whether it be animal-to-human or human-to-human interactions. It’s also a humorous and surreal take on the struggles of showbiz wannabes.

Though Trevor speaks directly to his motherlike caretaker Sandra and the other people who come into his life, they clearly only hear the grunts of an angry ape. And the cornucopia of visitors to Trevor and Sandra’s house also have trouble figuring out each other, including concerned neighbor Ashly, fellow chimp actor Oliver and fantasy figure Morgan Fairchild.

Director Joelle Robertson masterfully juggles many balls—keeping the ironic tone and storyline in place with a cast that not only has an actor realistically portraying a chimp, but also with actors who talk over and around each other without really communicating.

This cast is so believable that it’s hard to imagine the characters being portrayed by anyone else, including Brian Bohlender, who realistically captures Trevor through apelike gestures, a loping posture and puzzled dialogue, Shaleen Schmutzer-Smith as Trevor’s fierce protector, Jamie Kale as the concerned neighbor, Ryan Snyder as Oliver and Rachel Jahnsen as Morgan Fairchild.