Willamette Week

Willamette Week - Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Kai Hsing

WW Pick In Theatre Vertigo's latest production entitled Prague-Nosis!, nothing is what it seems. Is it Czech? Is it noir? Is it a mystery? Well, not exactly. But that's sort of the point in this rather elaborate but farcical whodunit story that follows Detective Dick Piston (Tom Moorman) on a case involving stolen jewels belonging to the famous French-cum-Czech actress Pleasure Hello (Camille Cettina). Her story about the jewels, as well as herself, is unclear and fuzzy, and leads to a tangled web involving hypnotist/typist extraordinaire Zing The Amazing (Kam Sisco), which then spans out to the self-proclaimed international jewel thief Misha Novakova (Melody Bridges), and stodgy Havel Presley (Darius Pierce), who suffers from a perpetual pantlessness syndrome, along with the trauma (or over-assumptions?) of the disappearance of his wife. These and other problems are all eventually hilariously explained, with a self-aware, animated quality that uses armadas of wordplay and parodic strategies in a roller-coaster ride of theatrical fun. Prague-Nosis! in some ways is a standard classic detective story, taking the character templates (tough-guy detectives, seductive damsels, foreign evil, etc.) and plot outlines (stolen and lost riches, disappeared persons, identity crises) of film noir, but processed with comedy-sketch caricatures more akin to The Big Lebowski than The Big Sleep. Sure, it's all fun and games until...the big twist (or is it really a twist at all?). Like numerous works in film in recent years, Prague-Nosis! uses elements of noir and attempts to ask what "truth" means these days anyhow, albeit in its own off-the-wall, wacky, and enjoyable fashion, with attention-grabbing, humorously explosive acting by the entire cast.