The Year in Theater

In Praise of Murderous Hookers, Heroic Zoroastrians, and the Ghosts of Garage Sales Storm. Plus: We viciously slag off the Andrews sisters and an embarrassing Wonder Woman costume!

 

2.The Lysistrata Lesson:Director/playwright Bucky Fay of the Cromulent Shakespeare Company sent me a good-spirited e-mail following my review of his contemporary retelling of this Greek classic, in which he glued together my quotes into something that sounded like a positive review: "Bewilderingly retro!"; "Nerdily charming!"; "Takes great pains to be witty!" Alas, Fay's e-mail was the funniest thing about this production, which made great comic hay out of dressing its female characters in dime-store Halloween costumes in lieu of fetish gear. One was dressed in a plastic Wonder Woman shell, suggesting that rather than refusing their husbands sex in order to end war (as in the Greek original), the players of this production should have refused their husbands caramel apples and candy corn.

 

3.Sister of Swing: This was a big hit for the Great American History Theater. I will take a stand here, though, and say that what brought the audiences was not script but the great songs of the Andrews Sisters (whose life stories the play attempts to tell), the appealing presence of sisters Christina Baldwin Fletcher and Jennifer Baldwin Peter, and the delirious comedic supporting performance of Ari Hoptman. Playwright Beth Gilleland took an admirable whack at the impossible task of telling an entire life--make that three lives in two hours. Then she got lost, and Bob Beverage took his own admirable whack. Another scriptwriter would not have helped.

 

4.Corpus Christi: I hesitate to write about Gray Space's production of Corpus Christi, because the production was coupled with the October disappearance of its director, Lavender editor Timothy Lee. The weekend of its opening, Lee, who is bipolar, checked himself into Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Upon checking out, Lee excused himself for a walk around the block, from which he has yet to return. I will be charitable in discussing the direction of the play, although Lee himself always admonished me that any failing in a play should be attributed to the director. This Terrence McNally production about a gay Jesus-like figure wasn't badly directed, per se, it was simply underdirected, as though it had been cast and the actors were told where to stand onstage, and then no further work had been done. Perhaps that is all McNally's script deserved, as he seemed to believe that nothing more was required of his story than to make Jesus gay and have him do things like bless a same-sex union. As a drama, the show is woefully incomplete. But it further fails as agitprop: The only people likely to be offended by such a story are exactly those who would not see a Terrence McNally play anyway.

 

5.The Sad Misadventures of Patty, Patty's Dad, Patty's Friend Jen and a Bunch of Other People: As the title suggests, Allison Moore's script, produced by the Cheap Theatre, was an overburdened play. The story superficially follows an economist (played by a suitably exhausted-seeming Michaela Kallick) who must mend her fractured relationship with her father when he suffers aphasia after a stroke. (And what was it with aphasia in theater this year? An aphasic character was also the subject of Theatre Latte Da's production of Wings.) But Moore continued to pile characters and subplots into her short script: a best friend with superhero powers, a magical pair of shoes, an introductory lesson to macroeconomics. Moore may want to study up on the law of diminishing returns.

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