**2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Herald Angel Award**
**2011 Edinburgh Stage Awards for Acting Excellence Nomination, Best Ensemble**
**Winner of the 2008 Glickman Award**
**The New Yorker Best of 2009**
**2009 Innovative Theater Award Nomination, Best Music**
**East Bay Express Best of 2008 (#1!); Best of the East Bay 2008: Best Theatrical Production, Best Theatrical Production Reader's Choice**
**SF Chronicle Best of 2008**
**SF Bay Guardian Best of 2008**
**SF Examiner Best of 2008**
**Mercury News Best of 2008**
New York Times Feature
Time Out New York Feature
Robert Avila's SFBG article on the January Roda show
CONCERT VERSION REVIEWS:
"Yay! This is such fun. Smart, thoughtful and tuneful, too...Beneath the poking fun at academia, the deconstructions, the rock anthems and the swagger is an interesting consideration of patriarchy, outsiders and what it means to be a muscle-bound warrior...There's a terrific band, witty lyrics, severed limbs, a goldfish bowl full of blood and a fantastic ensemble who use the space with swaggering confidence...boldly theatrical, full of bravado and even as it playfully tears the narrative apart, it never forgets that it has a story to tell"
-Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
"5 Stars...Beowulf Ė A Thousand Years of Baggage is one of those shows that makes the Fringe: a riotous performance and a great example of how stunning experimental theatre can be.
Actors and musicians roam about the spherical room, hiding behind pillars, kicking over chairs in blind rage, standing atop tables and helping themselves to drinks at the bar, even offering them to the audience. Itís messy but effective and we are immersed in an underworld of betrayal and Anglo-Saxon limb extraction.
The music is thunderous and unpredictable, supported by emotive and pitch-perfect vocals. The spoken portions are poetic and melt effortlessly into the accompanying music and acting...While itís cacophonous and brutal, there are moments of tenderness such as those between Grendel and his malevolent mother.
Beowulf is gritty, daring, intelligent and cleverly executed."
-Rebecca Paul, The Skinny
"Raucous and defiantly raw...pairing a full band that encompass numerous musical styles - from Weillian cabaret and jazz harmony to punk, electronica and more experimental sounds - with a some brilliantly understated performances, the result is unpretentious, yet also rousing...This is a production about breaking down the conventions of classical adaptations and celebrating an anarchic style that might not encompass every plot detail, but captures a visceral truth that traditionalists may have forgotten."
-Sally Stott, The Scotsman
"Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage has come to Joe's Pub—the lair this rollicking yawp of a musical should have been in all along...This stripped-down version of Banana Bag and Bodice's metamusing on the Old English epic seems funnier and more terrifying than ever: When Jessica Jelliffe—playing Grendel's anguished mother—stalked howling past me, I nearly spilled my drink. A venue can make a show, and in this case, cramming the eight-piece orchestra onto the Pub's tiny stage and letting the performers prowl along the tops of our booths infuses the piece with all the danger it was missing at Abrons. Raise your mead high, ye Danes! Beowulf is back."
-Helen Shaw, Time Out New York
ORIGINAL NYC RUN REVIEWS:
"Joyfully raucous...the propulsive, oompah-inflected music, by Dave Malloy (who also has the role of Hrothgar and plays the accordion), brings out the power and the color of the legend, and the performers are uniformly entertaining, from the backup-singing warriors (Shaye Troha and Anna Ishida) to Jason Craig, the playwright, as Beowulf, and, especially, Jessica Jelliffe, as Grendel’s savvy, lake-dwelling mother."
-Sarah Larson, The New Yorker
"Sorry, classicists: Banana Bag & Bodice's rocked-up riff on the epic poem deviates from the foundational Anglo-Saxon text. And yet, for much of its two hours, it does faithfully present the skeletal events of Beowulf through Dave Malloy's growly Tom Waits-esque tunes and Craig's lyric-naive text, which uses repetitions and studied verbal bumbling to undercut the bloody, ritualized narrative. Craig also weaves in (slightly on-the-nose) observations about matriarchal versus patriarchal psychology, the slippery-slope ethics of fighting terrorists and the role of violence in art. If those concepts don't do it for you, there's always a good stomping rock number and a stylized ass-kicking coming soon...Seeing this cracked Beowulf may not earn students extra credit, but it's an irresistible excuse to cut class."
-David Cote, Time Out New York
"A thrashing, bashing rendition of the 'Beowulf' story...Mr. Craig is hilariously revenge-of-the-nerdy as Beowulf, his heroic posturing notably at odds with his paunch and his glasses. It's all done to music (composed by Dave Malloy) that demands to be described as demented...And who would have thought that a production as full of noise as this one could end on a note approaching poignancy? It's the last surprise in a play full of them."
-Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"...a brilliant musical score composed by Dave Malloy (who also directs the music and plays the role of the good though wimpy King Hrothgar). In wonderfully cacophonous arrangements for blaring trombones, booming percussion, wild guitar, and wailing horns and viola, Malloy's songs not only capture the raw, primitive sensibilities of the story's eighth-century Scandinavian setting and characters but also underline subtle elements of the drama through amusing use of familiar musical genres -- hard rock, traditional Middle Eastern tunes, rap, Broadway, 1960s folk, and vocal jazz."
-Lisa Jo Sagolla, Back Stage
"An offbeat musical extravaganza...a successful fusion of rock and non-narrative theater. Credit for that goes to composer Dave Malloy, whose anthemic, bruising score is jubilantly performed by a sprawling onstage orchestra of brass, strings, piano, accordion, guitar, drums and saw...ultimately, it's Malloy's score that makes this worth your 20 bucks; songs like the Ramones-esque 'Body' and the Weill-inspired 'Hrothgar' are foot-stomping winners, and the virtuoso penultimate number, 'Olde English,' deserves to become the iPod generation's 'Pirate Jenny.'"
-John Del Signore, Gothamist
"The music by Dave Malloy (who also offers a compelling turn as Hrothgar, the old Danish king who first calls on our hero to vanquish the monster terrorizing his land) is one of the work's highlights -- as the score takes a joyful romp through klezmer, indie rock, Kurt Weill, and New Orleans jazz, among other genres. The opening number is a Tom Waits-inspired piece that seizes the stage from the dry academics and tosses us into the center of the action...and just wait for Beowulf's first entrance, a fun mix of punk, droll narrative, and Elvis-like swagger."
-Andy Buck, TheaterMania
"The music, by recent Jonathan Larson award-winner Dave Malloy (who also plays King Hrothgar), is wonderful- it feels a bit like Weill, with those swinging trombones, but has the power of rock and roll behind it. Like the text, the music also does not shy away from strange and unusual modes of expression...a very intriguing and very funny play."
-Duncan Pflalster, Broadway World
"...delightfully, unpredictably quirky on all levels. Those include Malloy's score, which often sounds like indie-rock Kurt Weill but finds room for hints of klezmer, ramalama punk and near-normal showtune, with adventuresome arrangements encompassing everything from dual trombones to whistling and musical saw...has the makings of a cult (if not wildly commercial) fave."
-Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Shotgun Players' world premiere of Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage is a breath of fresh air, both in terms of reclaiming the adventure from being strictly the province of scholars and as the most thoroughly enjoyable theatrical display I've seen yet this year....It's tempting to call it a rock opera in terms of its raucous energy, but Dave Malloy's music leans more toward enthrallingly bouncy cabaret numbers with some jazz, a little calyspo and rockabilly, and a whole lot of Kurt Weill....Beowulf's entrance is a masterpiece of bravado, boasting lunkishly in his dazzling song to "Mr. King Hrothgar, sir" that not only will he kill Grendel, but "I will shit on his back and piss on his ankle." Meanwhile the warriors gyrate on hands and knees chanting, "Horses and swords, oh my my my." At this point my jotted-down notes say, "That was fucking awesome."
A good deal of that awesomeness comes from the music, an impressive follow-up to Malloy's memorable score for Ten Red Hen's Clown Bible last year. Beowulf is packed with glee-enducing songs from the super-catchy "Welcome to our mead hall Heorot" to Grendel's mom's particularly Weillesque lament, to Beowulf's bouncy "I Ripped Him Up Good."...This is epic storytelling, and the way it's presented needn't be high-tech but it does need to be larger than life. That's where Beowulf succeeds magnificently."
-Sam Hurwitt, East Bay Express (original review)
"1. Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, Shotgun Players. This commissioned collaboration with New York's Banana Bag & Bodice transformed the Old English epic poem into a brawny and raucous musical with flamboyant theatricality, wrestling matches, go-go dancing warriors, and a jargon-spouting academic panel that turned into monsters. It also shared a vital component with last year's top pick, Ten Red Hen's Clown Bible: the fiendishly clever, cabaret-infused music and songwriting of Dave Malloy."
-Sam Hurwitt, East Bay Express (Best of 2008)
"Banana Bag and Bodice's brilliantly funny, muscular, and plain irresistible "songplay" is like the Bay Area landing of some marauding East Coast tribe of masterful miscreants. Actually, that's exactly what it is...a vibrant collaborative venture — featuring the formidable talents and instincts of writer-performer Jason Craig, composer-performer Dave Malloy, director Rod Hipskind, and a deft cast of actors and musicians — playing at the very top of its game. Intellectual posturing and epic adventuring, baroque phrases and broken heads, severe looks and severed limbs — it's all an enthralling, time-compressing mishmash of art and violence. The gore of now and yore unfolds to heart-thumping beats, killer lyrics, deadpan cracked-pate humor, and lilting '40s harmonies."
-Robert Avila, SF Bay Guardian
"Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage provides the ideal antidote to anyone who ever had to suffer through stultifying lessons on "Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon Tradition" in school...the group's gut-gripping new rock opera rages with an anarchic energy reminiscent of the most ardent anthems by Queen or Siouxsie and the Banshees....Beowulf and his merry band rock out to Malloy's defiantly cacophonous musical score, which seamlessly blends an array of influences including Kurt Weill, klezmer, and the Clash."
-Chloe Veltman, SF Weekly
"Old English epic meets jazzy art-rock and the zany theatricality of Banana Bag & Bodice in this exhilaratingly eclectic and comic Banana-Shotgun Players world premiere, a two-hour creative deconstruction and celebration of the oft-adapted ancient poem as written by Jason Craig (who plays Beowulf) with a terrific, eclectic score by bandleader and performer Dave Malloy...theatrical verve as provocative as it is entertaining, with a score that draws on everything from blues and country to haunting echoes of Kurt Weill and Weimar cabaret - the rock rhythms subconsciously evoking the alliterative beats of the ancient epic."
-Robert Hurwitt, SF Chronicle
"Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage is original, surprising and strangely moving...a hurdy-gurdy rock musical that lives just on the other side of a Brecht-Weill beer hall. Malloy's engaging score is, like the show itself, both funny and serious. And unlike so many new musicals, it features music you actively want to listen to...Part of what makes Beowulf so exciting is that it feels contemporary without straining itself to be hip. The aim seems to be the telling of a story and not the marketing of a performance art rock musical and all the wondrous personalities within it. There's a natural ferocity, humor and thoughtfulness in this show, and that's truly what makes this Beowulf howl."
-Chad Jones, Theater Dogs
"...perhaps the most wildly anticipated theatrical collaboration of the season"
-Nicole Gluckstern, SF Bay Guardian