The Silence of the Clams at Diversionary Theatre
  • The Silence of the Clams at Diversionary Theatre
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The Silence of the Clams

Clarice Starling: “Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.”

Hannibal Lecter: “I didn’t.”

Clarice: “No. You ate yours.”

Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs can be funny, in a ghoulish sort of way.

Jamie Morris’s The Silence of the Clams spoofs the movie with an LGBT spin. It can be funny, though often in a blunt, lowest-joke-denominator sort of way.

Three actors play all the parts on a bare stage. The uncredited costumes recall Anthony Hopkins’ sky-blue jumpsuit and Jody Foster’s all-black, G-Person attire.

Hannibal is now Hannibal Lichter, a psychotic psychiatrist/convicted cannibal slow of speech and swift of snaking tongue.

Clarice is now Clarice Startling. The easily spooked, FBI agent-in-training is hounded by nightmares of screaming clams. She’s on the trail of serial killer “Beaver Bob,” who “skins his victims down there.” He has kidnapped Kathryn Pelosi, daughter of Nancy. Time is running out!

So there’s Lichter and Beaver. In case anyone missed the connection, Clarice’s boss beats it, with several variations, into the ground.

The script resets the movie in San Diego. In the opening video sequence, Startling jogs around Balboa Park, where she partakes in a pie-eating contest. Hannibal thumbs through Bon Appetite and hails from La Jolla (which lets Nancy Pelosi, after a gnarly face-to-face with the masked madman, shout “take this thing back to La Jolla!”).

The script also includes updated references. To torture Lichter, for example, the asylum runs a non-stop video of Miley Cyrus’ TV show, Hannah Montana.

Chad Peterson speaks in Jody Foster’s throaty, West Virginia accent (and looks like Sandra Bullock). Logan O’Neill plays a stern FBI agent and the flamboyant director of the asylum, among others, often changing costumes and wigs in seconds.

While the others cartoon, Jamie Morris plays Lichter shoulders squared, statue-stiff. He excels with one of Anthony Hopkin’s most amazing choices for the movie: that soothing voice, as if comforting an old friend with all the time in the world (you half expect the psychiatrist in him to ask, “and how did that make you feel?”). It’s an acting cliché to play down evil. But Hopkins (and Morris) found a way to do it unforgettably. Amid the ongoing irreverence, and campy, over-the-top portrayals, Morris’ Lichter is an eerie, accurate, impressive piece of acting.

Morris doubles as manic Beaver Bob. He even performs the movie’s frontal nudity/genital disappearing act before our very eyes.

The show runs about 75 minutes. Some bits hit, others miss, and the writing has dull patches. Its mindless entertainment but with a surprise: the three performers with few props and a video screen recall the movie quite well.

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