Camelot Theatre Company will present the first play of its 2009 season, "Bullshot Crummond," by Ron House, Diz White, Alan Sherman, John Neville-Andrews and Derek Cunningham, opening this weekend.

Camelot Theatre Company will present the first play of its 2009 season, "Bullshot Crummond," by Ron House, Diz White, Alan Sherman, John Neville-Andrews and Derek Cunningham, opening this weekend.

A parody of low-budget British detective movies from the 1930s and the BBC serial "Bulldog Drummond," the play spoofs familiar cliches of British heroism. Teutonic villain and old Crummond nemesis Otto von Bruno and his evil mistress, Lenya, crash their plane in the English countryside and kidnap Professor Fenton, who has discovered a formula for making synthetic diamonds. Then, it's the heroic — if idiotic — Bullshot Crummond to the rescue.

Camelot's production is directed by producing director and artistic associate Doug Warner, who also appears as Von Bruno, "the second most dangerous man in Europe," and as Salvatore Scalicio, a Chicago gangster.

Niceties of plot and character definitely take a back seat to laughs as this proper British hero of World War I fights his old German enemy from his war days one more time. At stake is Rosemary Fenton, a damsel in distress whose father made a top-secret discovery lusted after by the villain, and whom Bullshot predictably falls for.

"The audience sees that the story line never adds up, the characters are ridiculous stereotypes, and many of the spectacular actions, taken from a movie screenplay format, can't possibly work as a live theatre piece," Warner says, "and that's what gives the play its comedic opportunities."

Bulldog Drummond — the character that inspired Bullshot Crummond — was played by Ronald Colman as a suave British hero who never wrinkled his tuxedo in a series of 1930s comedies (Colman was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for the role in 1930). The story was later made into a 1983 film directed by Dick Clement and produced by George Harrison.

Warner says the actors and designers are milking every one of the absurdities in the script.

"We've had a blast!" he says.

Formerly the producing director at Mendocino Theatre Company, Warner joined Camelot staff three years ago and has acted there in "The Beard of Avon," "The 1940s Radio Hour," "The Dresser" and "An American Daughter." He directed "Sockdology," "The Miracle Worker," "The Spitfire Grill" and "Dancing at Lughnasa."

The production features Camelot veterans Presila Quinby (Lenya von Bruno), Bart Grady (Algy Longwort, former Royal Loamshire officer and Crummond's pal), Brian O'Connor (Professor Rupert Fenton, famous Scientist; Inspector Scabbard of Scotland Yard and Wolfgang Schmidt, master of disguise), Tara Watkins (Rosemary Fenton, young English lady) and Brandon Byron Manley (Hugh "Bullshot" Crummond, ex-officer of His Majesty's Royal Loamshires).

Quinby is a Broadway veteran who was seen at Camelot as Kate in "Dancing at Lughnasa" and as Mrs. Muzzy in "Sockdology" as well as many other productions. O'Connor is a radio personality who has appeared in Camelot's "The Beard of Avon," "Into The Woods," "Shakespeare In Hollywood" and as the narrator in several of Camelot's popular Spotlights series.

Watkins recently played Hamm in "Endgame" in Southern Oregon University's student-directed projects, and appeared in SOU's productions of "Ring Round the Moon" and "Metamorphoses." Manley performed at Camelot in "1984" and "Promises, Promises."

The production team includes Camelot's resident designers, costumer Emily Ehrlich Inget, set designer Don Zastoupil, lighting designer Bart Grady and sound designer Brian O'Connor. Stage management is by Taja Watkins, and assistant stage manager is Tatiana Watkins.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. The Jan. 28 performance is a fundraiser for the Talent Historical Society. There is a special pay-what-you-can performance at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Call 535-5250.