The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy, Victory Gardens Theater. Lonnie Carter has a rare gift for language. His scripts are filled with geysers of poetry, streams of rhymes, puns, witty literary references, and word-association games–the words hippety-hop along with a hipster-hop jive that’s part gospel sermon, part beatnik riff, part David Steinberg routine.
In his three-act treatise on justice, The Sovereign State of Boogedy Boogedy, Carter recounts the Book of Daniel in a funky urban dialect, bobbing and weaving his way through biblical themes like a punch-drunk Lord Buckley facing off for a linguistic battle royal with William F. Buckley Jr. Set primarily in a courtroom where Daniel (now Danielle) must defend King Nebuchadrezzar against the accusations of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the play cites Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Temptations, and Amos ‘n’ Andy as it bounces from the biblical age to contemporary America, which has its own false idols: drugs, race, and family values.
The virtuoso language is not well supported, however, by Carter’s stiff trial structure and the play’s discursive satirical interludes. Though Dennis Zacek has directed a fine production for Victory Gardens, the playwright’s tendency to make his characters more symbolic than realistic and his frequent lengthy monologues render the lines flat and declamatory; the locomotive language only points up the play’s stagnancy. One wonders whether this admirably written drama might work a whole lot better on paper. –Adam Langer