In both press release and pre-curtain speech, Trenton Shine has described his new theatrical adaptation of American Psycho as a parody of the film. It's a claim that simultaneously overexplains and raises more questions. Isn't the film just a stylized and bowdlerized—yet essentially faithful—retelling of the satirical novel by Bret Easton Ellis? Can you parody a satire? Yes. And, sadly, no. Despite a game effort by Travis Martin in Christian Bale's iconic role as the status-crazed investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman, this Funhouse Lounge production fails even as pastiche. The presumable intent was a campfire replication of the movie's signal moments, which almost justifies prerecorded monologues. But in this case, simulating cinema on the cheap feels like hearing the movie loudly misquoted (unless the cast actually meant to call Huey Lewis' early work "New Age") while waiting in an interminable restroom line at an overcrowded '80s night, with all the fun that suggests. Given the retro soundtrack's evident importance, why not follow recent song-filled adaptations of Top Gun and Flash Gordon by cranking up the camp nostalgia for musicals? (The Matt Smith-starring, Duncan Sheik-scored version of American Psycho has done all right in the U.K.) Or, rather than broaden the comedic aspects, why not try a serious interpretation? The cast, which resists the temptation to mug for easy laughs or imitate filmic forebears, certainly seems up to the challenge, and the dialogue between Bateman and the detective investigating a victim's disappearance crackles with undeserved tension. For that matter, however disconcerting the projected backdrops and constant scene-shuffling early on, each murder is presented a bit more ingeniously, until the climactic shootout explodes in a flourish of minimalist stagecraft. Still, as they say, deaths are easy. Comedy is hard.
SEE IT: American Psycho is at Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., 841-6734. 7 pm Thursdays-Saturdays through Aug. 9. $10-$15.