Like most fun things, the French have been doing it for years: According to director Tobin Atkinson, the show’s creators Sebastien Azzopardi and Sacha Danino “must have done something right ... because the show is now into its fifth continuous season on the Paris stage.” With their assistance, Marynell Hinton translated it—especially the jokes—into a form suitable for Utah audiences.
The humor in this genre is based on scattershot, hit-and-miss references, puns and running jokes; there are always some terrible ones, but they make up for it in volume. This one hits at least 85 percent—a success in anybody’s book. But, whatever the hit-to-miss statistics, we were laughing our asses off the whole time—and the beauty of the system is that any reference that falls flat (“There’s an app for that,” Full House) can be swapped out like a bad light bulb.
Performances are uniformly strong: Kirt Barnes’ portrayal of a tripped-out, aphorism-spouting Hong Kong opium-den attendant is a highlight, and Susan Maurer is hilarious in all her onstage incarnations (even her “please turn off your phones” speech is delightful.) Roger Dunbar’s Detective Fix is so authentically British he seems to have stepped out of a BBC comedy. As the monomaniacal villain in the melodrama, he offers such a tightly controlled performance that it could easily be overlooked among the other characters’ over-the-top nuttiness. But watch carefully—Dunbar’s comedic timing is impeccable.