Most of you will be disgusted by “Toxic Avenger: The Musikill,” but screw you. This new stage adaptation of Troma Film’s famous superhero ain’t for you! Chalk-full of lewd jokes, nudity and graphic head squishing, “Toxic Avenger” is destined to find its audience in the underbelly of Portland.
The “Musikill” was born while Ira Kortum, a recent PSU graduate, was directing his stage adaptation of “Cannibal! The Musical!” – another Troma Film cult favorite – at PSU. His adaptation was such a success that Lloyd Kaufman, Troma Films co-founder and “Toxic Avenger” creator, approached Kortum about adapting “Toxic Avenger” as a musical.
Fans of Kaufman’s 1985 break-out horror-comedy film can count on being titillated by the stage version’s irreverent spirit and commitment to Kaufman’s vision, in which Melvin, a 90 pound virginal janitor is transformed into the grotesque and heroic Toxic Avenger when he falls into a vat of nuclear waste and goes on a killing-spree; ridding Tromaville of evil while falling in love with a blind woman named Sarah.
Kortum, a PSU theater graduate, threw himself into the project personally incurring a $9,000 debt in the process. He adapted the script, wrote the lyrics and is directing and acting in “Toxic Avenger.” His multimedia vision includes song styles ranging from bluegrass to Danzig-era Misfits, and projections of particularly graphic scenes from the movie.
There is a palpable sense of passion exuding from all of the unpaid actors that grace Disjecta Theatre’s stage, which is amusing coming from a play that seeks to pierce its cheek with its tongue. The quality of the acting ranges widely, but you don’t need to be a thespian to portray an old lady who gets the crap beaten out her. Every actor, all of whom are unpaid, is totally committed to the show and at the best moments they invite the audience to have as much fun as they are.
When asked about his actors Kortum joked, “I took what I could get. If this was “My Fair Lady” I would have actors coming out of my ass.”
The leads, however, are surprisingly good, both in their vocal ability and their comedic timing.
Colin Murray and Jayne Stevens are the standouts as Toxie and Sarah. Murray is hilariously sincere as the mutant hero with a heart of gold and a homicidal hatred of all things evil. Stevens, a PSU theater student, has an uncanny aptitude for comedic timing, bumbling around stage as Toxie’s blind girlfriend, which prompted Kortum to remark, “Jayne’s not a professional actress, but she will be.”
Kortum opens the show with a Broadway style exposition number that sets the stage for the self-referential absurdity to come. But it is the second act that will have you wetting your pants, crossing your legs to hide your erection, or looking for the nearest exit. The blocking gets more obscene, the songs more wacky, and bad guys start dying.
“Toxic Avenger: The Musikill” has the chance of being more polarizing than the presidential election, but those of you who will get it, and you know who you are, owe it to your sense of curiosity to check it out.
Oct. 14-31. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ Disjecta Theatre, 116 NE Russell