Jeff Riberdy and Everett Quinton
in Devil Boys From Beyond
(© Carol Rosegg)
Jeff Riberdy and Everett Quinton
in Devil Boys From Beyond
(© Carol Rosegg)
The Theatre of the Ridiculous seems to be making a comeback. Not only did we get the fabulous (and still running) production of Charles Busch's The Divine Sister earlier this season, now comes an Off-Broadway run of the delightfully subversive Devil Boys From Beyond, at New World Stages, which features former Ridiculous Theatrical Company artistic director Everett Quinton in one of the major roles.

In this all-male romp (first seen with the same cast at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival production), Quinton plays Florence Wexler, a dumpy housewife in Lizard Lick, Florida whose life changes unexpectedly after a space ship crash lands in her backyard. The strange goings-on in the town attract intrepid girl reporter Mattie Van Buren (Paul Pecorino) and news photographer Gregory Graham (Robert Berliner) -- who also happens to be Mattie's alcoholic, ex-husband. They're followed by gossip columnist Lucinda Marsh (Chris Dell'Armo), who wants to scoop them on the story of the century.

The play, written by Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliot (the latter of whom also directs), is set in 1957 and accentuates the parallels between the Red Scare of the time and the sci-fi fears of alien invasion. Lucinda claims to be the "queen of the Blacklist," threatening to destroy the careers of Mattie and Gregory, and also label their editor Gil (Peter Cormican) as a communist. But while the play toys with the red-baiting paranoia of the 1950s, it also features contemporary resonances, even touching upon issues such as gay marriage.

Quinton knows how to wobble a syllable for maximum comic effect, and his outrageously campy performance is the highlight of the show. Fine work is also done by Pecorino, whose rubbery facial expressions amuse throughout, although the song he sings after Gregory is captured by the aliens is not as well executed as it could be.

Berliner speaks in a cartoonish fashion that seems oddly appropriate for his role, and his leading man good looks serve him well as he becomes the focal point of a romantic triangle between Gregory, Mattie, and Dell'Armo's predatory Lucinda. Andy Halliday turns in a wickedly saucy performance as Florence's best friend, Dotty, and the cast is rounded out by Jeff Riberdy and Jacques Mitchell as the hunky aliens who are causing such a stir.

Elliot incorporates a number of cheesy, low-budget special effects that serve the play well. He's aided in this by scenic/graphic designer B.T. Whitehill, while costume designer Gail Baldoni's creative concoctions perfectly capture the zany tone of the production.

There are, admittedly, a few moments where the pacing could use a bit of tightening, but overall the 90-minute show is an entertaining diversion that comes complete with a conclusion that emphasizes the queer politics of the performance.