Photo by Steve Ullathorne

One-man “Die Hard” parody has heart, humor, and Hans Gruber for fans and newcomers alike

Jacob Downey




Whether your first experience with John McClain (Bruce Wilis) was with your dad, a little too young to understand a word coming from Hans Gruber’s (Alan Rickman) mouth, that one episode of “Friends” (a show in which Bruce Wilis just so happened to also guest star in three episodes), or witnessing the ongoing debate as to whether or not it is a Christmas movie or not (it is), “Die Hard” (1988) is the kind of movie you have more than likely absorbed as a one-liner or through pop-cultural osmosis. 

Richard Marsh’s “Yippie Ki Yay” is a one-man (and two teddy bear) parody show that recites and expands on the plot of the film, largely in verse. The B-plot of the show revolves around Marsh’s connection to the film and how it has influenced his life and relationships. These two plots are woven together well, leading to dual narratives that work in cooperation with one another, playing off each other’s themes.

Having never seen “Die Hard”, I went in mostly sold on the novelty of the premise. Leaving the theater after the show, hands stained with ink from trying to take notes in the dark, I found myself pleasantly surprised not only by  “Yippie Ki Yay”’s humor but also its heart. The show reads like your funniest friend tipsily describing the plot of their favorite movie with periodic interjections of intimate personal details. Marsh has done an outstanding job creating a parody that does not point and laugh at its source material but revels in its absurdity with admiration.

Star Darrel Bailey too is exceptional at depicting the film’s cavalcade of ’80s camp. Most essential for this kind of performance, he appears to be having fun with the role. Bailey delivers a scenery-chewing performance and masterfully melts into “Die Hard”’s eccentric cast of characters, all of whom are easy to differentiate for the duration of the show. As an American, it was entertaining to hear his English twang underlaid in every character’s voice, somehow elevating the 80’s action movie schtick of the source material.

For PSU students who are scattered throughout New England, “Yippie Ki Yay” is more than worth the commute, especially for die-hard “Die Hard” fans. Those in the greater Boston area, even more so. Student discounts on Amtrak and Concord Coach services, as well as $20 tickets for students and members of the military, make this show an excellent use of your holiday break.

“Yippie Ki Yay” will play at the Huntington Theatre in Boston through Dec. 31 with 4 pm and 7:30 pm curtain calls. Tickets can be reserved here, or at 617-266-0800.