Although I was born a few decades too late to experience the Indiana Jones movies as they came out, the franchise was an integral part of my childhood. My dad and I have always bonded over these films, and we even made our way through the entire series. So when I heard that Seattle Public Theatre, in collaboration with theater troupe The Habit, was offering their own spin on these sentimental films, we just had to go together.
I can’t say I was expecting SPT’s Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark to be anywhere near as great as the original films. I was anticipating a simple re-enactment of the series, with maybe a few new and cheesy jokes. But, Indy Jones exceeded my expectations: it’s a wonderfully comedic mishmash of the first three films, complete with original musical numbers. This production isn’t a simple re-enactment of the show, but a new, fresh, and dick joke-filled take on these nostalgic classics.
Indy Jones mostly follows the story of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with scenes from other non-Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movies artfully incorporated in a way that keeps the plot cohesive but highlights the integral parts of each film. This production caters both to Indiana Jones fanatics as well as those who are less familiar to the franchise: some jokes and references cater to the film buffs, but the majority are accessible to those who have better things to do with their time than watch Indiana Jones movies on repeat. This play is lovingly crafted—while most goofs are instantaneous and low-brow, many run throughout the entire show only to resolve satisfactorily in the final scenes. As my dad quipped, Indy Jones was essentially a 90-minute Saturday Night Live sketch.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Indy Jones, however, was the acting. To keep the laughs rolling requires serious comedic chops, and the actors were certainly up to the task. While the leading cast, especially Marion (Helen Roundhill) and her beau, the titular Indy (Casey Raiha), kept the jokes coming, the rest of the cast was what really made the show. In keeping with the delightfully low-budget nature of the production, almost every member played multiple roles, including living altars, disgruntled boulders, and pianist Nazis.
During the uncharacteristic and tumultuous thunderstorm the night I saw Indy Jones, the lights flickered and eventually, the power went out. While a less-skilled cast would have simply emptied the theater and called off the show, this one didn’t seem phased. Instead, they encouraged the audience to pull out their phone flashlights, finishing the show in a wonderfully memorable manner.
It’s no wonder that the run of Indy Jones has been extended…and then extended again. At the time of writing, it’s running until September 28. And, frankly, whether you love, hate, or have never heard of Indiana Jones, you should go see this production. While it may have been my dad who first introduced me to the Indiana Jones franchise, SPT has reintroduced it to me in a way that is just so, so much funnier.