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59E59 Theatres, New York City

His Royal Hipness Lord Buckley is a wild, charming, make-your-head-spin work that lets you into the erudite, frenetic, funny world of, well, Lord Buckley. I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea who this wonderful man was.  I do now!

The piece is staged in an intimate (read “a little squished together”) atmosphere with cocktail tables surrounding the small stage. There is a three-piece jazz band with drums, piano and bass.

It is somewhat startling to be sitting in the dark and hearing your as-yet-unseen host let you know that “It is good, now and again, to commune with your subconscious mind and ask yourself just who in the hell do you think you are?”

Jake Lanahan, the endearingly geeky host of “Hip News” who makes certain that no one from the vice squad or incoming administration is in the audience, makes an introduction. The mercurial Jake Broder bursts onto the stage resplendent in white tie and tux, and we’re off!

The language is delicious be-bop hip.  The audience is frequently referred to as cats and kitties.  He begins with a riff about where he finds God.  Then it’s story-telling time.

The audience is first treated to a hipster version of A Christmas Carol.   Who knew that, in this breathless, hilarious rendition, a reference to Standing Rock could be worked in, along with Hannibal Lechter and a Steve Bannon mask?  Needless to say, this is Scrooge as you’ve never seen him before.

The Hip Hop news update ensues sharing such morsels as “Nuclear war is no longer a threat” and “As only 12% of Americans can name the faces on Mt. Rushmore, they will be replaced with some other faces”!

Now it’s time for the tale of The Pied Piper of Hamlin. The Mayor of the town is old and fat and not hip. Things seem to look up when the Pied Piper appears with a sax.  He takes care of that pesky rat problem.  When he goes to collect his pay, well the mayor didn’t really mean all that about the money. Um, reneging on contracts, not paying your staff.  Remind you of anyone?  I’m just saying!  We all know that the piper takes his revenge!

As you may have guessed, this show is awash with veiled and not so veiled references to the current state of this country. In his sometimes breathtakingly random way Lord Buckley tries to let us know that it will all be okay.  We’ve seen it before.  He goes so far as to quote Walt Whitman: “I celebrate myself, and what I assume you shall assume…” Draw your own conclusions.

The one moment I sensed the audience hesitate was the hip translation of the Gettysburg Address. His interpretation was funny, yes, but also so loving and gentle that the hesitation disappeared.

There is a set about a revered Indian gentleman referred to as Hip Ghan (you know!) and how he changed a nation.  There is another about a man referred to as the Naz.

The band is quirky and certainly a character in the piece. The music is worthy of a show of its own.

This is an amazing current-events-meets-history piece given to us by a one of a kind man who is wry, funny, angry and who invites us all into his wildly individual club.  Oddly (or maybe not) by the end, his message is love.

  • Comedy
  • Written by Jake Broder
  • Directed by David Ellenstein
  • Cast: Jake Broder, Michael Lanahan
  • 59E59 Theatres, New York City
  • Until 1 January 2017
  • Review by Patricia Reed
  • 19 December 2016

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