| Chicago Reader

Vikings! A Musical in Two Axe 

Vikings! A Musical in Two Axe, Noble Fool Theater Company. Before the show started Sunday, Noble Fool founder and Vikings! coauthor Jack Bronis told the audience, "This is kind of a new kind of musical." Actually, it's a very old kind of musical--a throwback to the era on Broadway when consistent plots and coherent character development took a backseat to star power and pure theatrical sensation.

By the standards of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Vikings! is a mess. The show has virtually no plot. The characters Bronis and songwriter Bonnie Shadrake have created--a shipload of fierce Viking warriors and their equally fierce wives--do little more than talk about themselves and their lives, then plan an abortive attempt to defeat the Norse gods and put themselves in their place.

Still, the show is pretty entertaining, packed with a populist grab-ass comedy--performed by seasoned comic actors--that reveals Bronis's improv roots: there are myriad sex jokes plus a song-and-dance sequence parodying heavy metal and its Viking imagery. Bronis and Shadrake also slip in some sly digs at Norse legends in general and at Wagner's use of them in particular. Among other images borrowed from the Ring cycle are a Valkyrie chorus and a dramatic battle with a fire-breathing dragon.

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