You know you’re in for a peculiar evening when the lights go up and you see on stage a cap with the word “Feces” printed on it. Turns out it’s just one of many caps worn by the two actors, Anthony Methvin and Tom Zohar, in Backyard Renaissance’s production of the 2005 Gutenberg! The Musical! The idea, stretched about as far as it can go, is that Doug (Methvin) and Bud (Zohar) are rehearsing a musical they’ve written about Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. In so doing, they prance around and sing songs while donning caps identifying what characters they’re portraying, from Gutenberg himself to his fictitious love interest, Helvetica, to a villainous monk – and many more. A few of the original tunes are clever and this pair tries awfully hard, but the upshot is a tiring exercise in neo-Vaudeville.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.