"The Discount Cruise to Hell" is just what it sounds like: a cruise to hell embarked on by audience members who are subjected to the sick and twisted performances of this insane cast of psychotic (yet loveable) characters. It’s a cabaret of sorts, a satanic cabaret of death for the entire family (if your family is made up of Charles Manson and the Menendez Brothers, that is).
The Purgatory Posse, as they call themselves, borrow from famous songs of contemporary pop culture to tell the tale of a young woman pregnant by her fornicating priest who is caught in the crossfire when her father vengefully kills the priest. The woman, though just deceased, gives birth to "El Bebe Muy, Muy, Muy Malo (also known as the Devil Baby)." Well, "gives birth" is putting it nicely. Apparently, the unborn Devil Baby decides it will not suffer the same fate as its recently terminated mother and violently claws its way out of the womb.
The rest of this happy-go-lucky tale entwines around the Devil Baby seeking mother figures through life and eventually reuniting with its mother in the afterlife, resulting in a tear-jerking scene of love and loyalty. OK, not tear-jerking at all but … well, amusing as hell.
Versions of songs like "Hell is for Children" by Pat Benatar and "Dark Lady" by Cher amuse to no end and are married to semi-silly choreography taken dead seriously by the hilarious ensemble. Two standout numbers include a variation of a Samantha Foxx song revamped with a chorus of "I wanna kill my son / stab his body all night long," and a Greenskeepers’ tune altered to pay homage to the Buffalo Bill character in The Silence of the Lambs ("It puts the lotion on the skin, or it gets the hose again"). This is brilliant repugnance!
Songs by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Suzanne Vega, PJ Harvey, David Geddys and Sinead O’Connor are also not-so-gracefully butchered by the zany crew, as is a medley from "Miss Saigon" and the finale from "Godspell." The Suzanne Vega tune "Luka" is a crack-up, with three men in drag singing "We are Luka" in sarcastic unison and essentially directing blame at abuse victims for the abuse inflicted upon them. The "Miss Saigon" medley has some amusing moments, but is the more boring segment of the show. The "Godspell" finale finishes out the show, fully quipped with a whining Jesus on the cross ("Ow … aaaahhhhhch"). One might expect a more climactic, hellish finale, but nothing about this show is "expected."
This show also shows penis – twice! Full frontal penis (is there another kind?). At one of these penile moments, a "straight" man decided he needed to walk out. After the show, I overheard him telling his friends, "That just wasn’t my forte … I mean, as soon as another man’s dick comes out, I’m gone." Funny, though, that the penis was more offensive to him than the hellacious glorifying of domestic abuse, child abuse and murder. This exchange alone makes me feel proud of the Purgatory Posse for creating such in-your-face controversy. Overall, I had a hell of a time!
So what are you waiting for? GET UP AND GET OUT!
Celebration Theatre is located at 7051 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. For reservations, call (323) 449-0246. Show times: June 11, 13 @ 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.discountcruisetohell.com.