Ah, the delights of Lapsburgh: its castles, its discotheques, its 16 varieties of sheep. You won’t find it on most maps, so imagine this European principality as a slighter Montenegro with stranger native dances. These dances are but one attempt to entice audiences into a longer stay during The Lapsburgh Layover, a sloppy, exuberant genre spoof by the Berserker Residents, a Philly-based theater company fanatically devoted to science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all things tentacled and squidgy.
This piece, directed by Oliver Butler, begins in the Ars Nova lobby, where audience members are treated as jet setters stranded for refueling at tumbledown Lapsburgh International. After filling out customs forms that ask if you’re carrying more than two gallons of yogurt and whether you would marry a Lapsburgher woman, the crowd is led into a banquet hall garlanded in red and gold. “As you see,” says cultural ambassador Zelda Tre’Force (Leah Walton), “we shall make this time of waiting for your plane the most fancy for you.”
This opulence includes an attempt at a three-course meal, a power-point presentation, and “an American detective drama nightclub mystery”—all designed to sell Lapsburgh timeshares. The mystery—written and acted by Justin Jain, Dave Johnson, and Bradley K. Wrenn—revels in sub-Chandler glee. The Berserkers liven the tale with ghastly accents and gumshoe koans such as, “The Club Regard was just like every woman I’d ever fallen for: Dark, mysterious, and hard to get in to.”
Compared to the typical Berserker show, this may seem tame and far too bereft of sticky fluids, but the last act includes a surprise catastrophe that even Lovecraft might have found a bit icky. After a concluding bloody mêlée involving flesh-eating frogs, the Lapsburghers may not sell too many timeshares. But that doesn’t make this ingenious layover any less ribbit-ing. Er, riveting.