Richmond Times Dispatch (US), May 29, 2003

'The Matrix' reworked

Reeves film gets comedy treatment

The funny people at Comedy Alley were looking around for a movie to poke musical fun at when they realized that the biggest, juiciest target was "The Matrix."

"With Keanu Reeves in it, that's such an easy mark."

Ah, yes. The ever-so-wooden Keanu Reeves. A walking bull's-eye for satirists.

"I know you think my acting's fake/But I'll do better in this than in 'Point Break,'" sings the actor who plays Neo, the character originated by Reeves.

The comedy in Comedy Alley's "The Musical Matrix" is both loving and pointed. The entire Keanu Reeves oeuvre lends itself to skewering, and the players begin with "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and work their way through his films.

And yet, they must admire "The Matrix" enough to have watched it countless times, pinning down both the plot and the details. The two-hour show repeats the full movie, scene by scene, covering all of the plot points as they occur in the original film.

"A good amount of the audience has been showing signs that they are aware of the movie," Walters said, in an understatement. But just in case anyone does not remember the numerous details of the story, the back of the program has a synopsis called "Matrix for Dummies."

The other level of humor comes from the reworked pop songs with new lyrics relating to the movie. These songs range from the "South Park" movie's "La Resistance" to Duran Duran's "Rio" (restyled, of course, as "Neo") to Don McLean's "American Pie" ("Why, why Mr. Morpheus guy?/I'm a hacker not a slacker/Am I living a lie?").

"The Musical Matrix" came about after last year's successful musical version of "Star Wars." Walters and co-director David Gau outlined the movie and drew up a list of plot points and dialogue to include.

No script was written. Walters and Gau left that to their cast of 13 improvisers, including Gau (Walters is running the lights for this show). Together, they came up with the show, including the concept that the Matrix, in this version, is actually the audience. Chase scenes and fights actually occur amid the audience.

The show, which Walters called "a pure camp production," is playing on an extended run through June 20. The shows are either Friday or Saturday (it changes with each week), and already the show is getting repeat customers.

"We've actually had a person dress in costume and come here as Trinity," Walters said.

"The Musical Matrix"

Where: Comedy Alley, 7115 Staples Mill Road
When: 10 p.m. tomorrow (the day of the show alternates between Friday and Saturday through June 20).
Tickets: $12
Reservations: Required. Call (804) 266-9377.
"It's so serious and so strait-laced that it gives so much opportunity for comedy," said Comedy Alley owner Christine Walters, co-director of "The Musical Matrix."

Article Focus:

Matrix, The


Matrix, The

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