Conquest of the Universe or, as Ludlam not so subtly titled his production in part to distinguish it from Vaccaro’s, When Queens Collide, is Ludlam’s second play. The epic collage possesses an amorphous associative dramaturgy and is anarchistic, bombastic, arcane yet futuristic, beyond raunchy, frantic yet languid, scatological and downright dirty, drug influenced and indicative of the far flung sources Ludlam fodders throughout his subsequent plays. A mix of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and Hamlet, the play also draws Hitler’s speeches and writings, TV commercials of the day and newspaper help wanted ads into its orbit.
Ludlam’s pop counter-cultural Elizabethan complications occur in outer space where Tamberlaine’s hubris now extends to the subjugation of planets in a fierce battle of sexual conquests and imperialism.
Wayne Shaw and the Ludicrous Theatre Company have reworked the show setting the production of the play in the early 80s, with the concept that this is an off broadway production with the cast being 80s pop stars such as George Michael, Madonna, Blondie and many others. Ludlam originally had several pieces of music in the original production, including a scandalous Fire Woman dance at the start of the show, but unfortunately all this music is lost. Ludicrous has added even more music to the show sung by the cast as they are playing their pop star roles.