By JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer on Sep 27, 2012, at 2:24 AM Updated on 9/27/12 at 7:16 AM
When the Midwestern Theater Troupe premiered “Warm Delicious Play,” the story was that this melange of deconstructed Greek myths and intergalactic soap opera was in fact the creation of a band of extraterrestrial clowns.
“Um, yeah,” John Cruncleton said, punctuating the comment with a brief, slightly embarrassed laugh. “That was just us having a little bit of fun.”
Today, some 11 years after “Warm Delicious Play” first saw the light of day – or the dark of the Nightingale Theater, to be more precise – Cruncleton is more than willing to acknowledge that the script is his own creation.
“The clowns may still be there,” he said. “They’re just a little more subtle.”
Still, acknowledging authorship also means that there are aspects of the original script that might need to be revisited.
“When we did the show in 2001, it was successful – the audience enjoyed it, and we thought we had done the best job of it that we could,” Cruncleton said. “But I thought that maybe the show was a little too sketchy, maybe a little too hermetically sealed off.
“I’ve never had a great yen to root around in the things I’ve written – I’m more than glad to move on to new things,” he said. “But there are a few things that I still have a love for, and this is one of them. It’s a real treat to have the space to go back and revisit a work and try to get it right.”
“Warm Delicious Play” is set in a seedy traveling flea circus – although this place is more of a launching pad for story that careens through space and time, weaving together such narrative threads as the mythological tale of Demeter and Persephone; gods and giants; zombies, hecklers and silent children; and something known as “ectoplasmic glop.”
Cruncleton said the root of “Warm Delicious Play” was a previous original work of his, “Romolo the Great,” another three-ring twist on ancient myths.
“That was one of the problems with the original show – you couldn’t understand ‘Warm Delicious Play’ without knowing ‘Romolo the Great,’ ” he said. “So one thing I did was go back and fit the two stories together.”
And although Cruncleton joked about having to “push past the self-disgust” of reading something he wrote a decade or more ago, he said he was pleasantly surprised by some aspects of the script.
“There were some of the plot points – the way the truth about some characters is revealed, other reversals like that – really surprised me,” he said. “Granted, it is a very soap opera-y kind of story, but I suppose I find this patina of melodrama a little more pleasing.”
The set for “Warm Delicious Play” will also be one of the more elaborate that has been constructed in the company’s Nightingale Theater home, which has seen the likes of such productions as “The Blue Whale of Catoosa,” Cruncleton’s previous original play that postulated the Route 66 landmark as one of the last human refuges in a post-apocalyptic world.
“We found a few set pieces from the original production, but most of it is new,” he said. “It has a real sculptural quality to it.”
Yet for all the changes being made in “Warm Delicious Play,” which is one of the company’s submissions for the 2013 Tulsa Awards for Theatre Excellence, Cruncleton said the purpose of the play is the same.
“When we did this the first time, we were just having fun with the whole concept of theatricality, sort of cutting our teeth on the sort of theater we wanted to do,” he said. “We wanted to give the audience an exciting, circusy time at the theater, to produce a visceral response with our quaint theatrical tricks.
“I just think that now, we all have the chops to tell this story better,” Cruncleton said.
‘WARM DELICIOUS PLAY’
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Oct. 5-6 and 12-13
Where: Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. Fourth St.
Tickets: $10. At the door