Despite West Lynn Productions’ apparent newness on the scene, and certainly to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there is a lot to be said for Secret Mountain’s originality. Not much, mind you, for its parabolic content (taking any of the life lessons put forth in the show would be deeply inadvisable) but a great deal nonetheless for almost everything else. After an opening montage reminiscent of Too Many Cooks, the Secret Mountain thirty-something-teens launch into improv, sketch comedy, and nihilistic absurdity that feels like an hour of Peewee's Playhouse if Paul Reubens was indeed, on that 'whack crack.'
Though deeply enjoyable, the production isn’t without its missteps. There are one or two “commercial breaks” that warrant a little polish— they stagger a little and draw momentum away from a very intelligent and otherwise driving script. That said, it’s not entirely clear how much of Secret Mountain is actually scripted; there are a few instances where scenes are slowed down by line fumbles and interruptions, worsened by Oliver the pig’s sometimes confusing accent. That said, the very same porcine puppet has been a mainstay in my heart since the end of the show. He’s incredibly quotable, as are a plenty of other jokes from across the entire script. The morbidity of the “ghost boy” scene was a particularly strong point, bolstered by the captivating comedic timing and delivery of Mason Pitluk. Since viewing this show, we've found ourselves jokingly shouting "Come on kids let's go find my body!" more times than we can count. Improv is a consistent strength throughout the piece, as are the attempts at childlike wonder from the supporting cast— they are established and then dashed again and again throughout. Pete Parsons, the creator of the show, flexes his own improvisational might during a creatively portrayed time-machine segment, as he unpacks suggestions from the audience and goes on tangents accordingly. The suggestions took a predominantly political tone, but Pete managed to work through them effectively, using “Oliver” to inject scathing pessimism and catchy jingles into some of history’s more significant moments. There are other puppets too, including a brain-damaged mouse, a well loved dog, and the looming omnipresent threat that is “The Hawk.”
Is there some deeper meaning to be found in Secret Mountain? Something beneath the surface of it’s depraved, extravagant nonsense? If there is, to be honest, I don’t think such a reading would be encouraged. The main take-away from this show is that you are a terrible, selfish person, and if you have an ear for improv and jokes that will stick with you for a long time to come, you should keep an eye on West Lynn Productions. Secret Mountain is an earworm. It crawls into your head and puts awful ideas in you, and I love it. I will exclaim “sweet sassy mowassy” till I die. Though West Lynn Productions don’t currently have a web presence, Mason Pitluk (or “Ghost Boy”) is the creative Director of Fallout Theater, whose new website will be launching soon.
On top of sufficiently ruining our childhoods, West Lynn Productions is chaired by some extremely personable, and lovely people. They're heartwarmingly humble and appreciative, and that added to our enjoyment of the production. With some more polishing, tightening of lines and improved pacing, I could easily see Secret Mountain as its own sketch series, with new "episodes" being performed weekly or monthly and for the sake of Austin, Texas (where the cast resides) we hope this comes to fruition. You can follow wowsecretmountain on Instagram for further updates from this company. "Secret Mountain!"