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The Realish Housewives of Edina brings bad reality TV to the stage

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The Realish Housewives of Edina is subtitled "a parody," which is a good thing. It's easy to mistake the Real Housewives empire as a joke on the nature of fame and the depths people will go to get it.

The more problematic part this Hennepin Theatre Trust premiere at the New Century Theatre is the "Edina" part. Aside from tossed-off references to Twin Cities landmarks and politicians (Hello, Michele Bachmann and Al Franken!), there isn't a lot to tie the show to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Creators Kate James and Tim Sniffen plan to take the play across the nation. These housewives are going to be jammed into any place in the country, leaving regional distinctions to be damned.

The plot is as thin as the hair on top of an arts patron's head. The show takes place during the final taping of the first season of The Realish Housewives of Edina. We meet the five ladies who have bonded, fought, and drank their way through a string of contrived events.

There's heiress Ravonka, politico Gwen, self-made businesswoman Brooke, homemaker Claudia-Louise (she likes to be called C.L.), and dim-bulb neck model Desiree. The divisions are set up pretty early, primarily between Ravonka and Brooke, who fight like cats around an open tin of Fancy Feast.

Ravonka is horrified by Brooke, who not only works for a living, but has made her fortune by "butt writing" — putting inspirational messages on the backsides of athletic wear (such as, "My eyes are up here, and on the other side").

All five rub each other the wrong way. C.L. is the only one to have a man. Gwen's political ambitions (and occasional stints in the slammer) often get in the way. Desiree is a stereotypically dumb blonde with a fro-yo addiction to boot.

That it all ends in a confrontation with federal agents atop the Minnesota Sculpture Garden's "Spoonbridge and Cherry" is probably the most inspired moment.

Under director Matthew Miller, an overqualified cast does its best to make this a somewhat entertaining evening. Kim Kivens and Anna Hickey have some real heat as Ravonka and Brooke. Kivens especially embodies her boozy, self-centered character (I mean that as a compliment).

The other characters are seriously underwritten. Quinn Shadko wins over the audience with the seemingly straightforward C.L.. The poorly defined Gwen leaves the talented Katherine Kupiecki with almost nothing to do. The same can be said of model Desiree, though Karissa Lade pushes her character's fatuity to absurd heights.

Not every show needs to deconstruct modern life or expose the human condition, but I do like my comedies sharp, fresh, and biting. The Realish Housewives of Edina is, at best, a diversion that you can get by turning on your TV and watching the real deal. 

IF YOU GO:

The Realish Housewives of Edina
New Century Theatre
615 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Through Nov. 15
Call 612-455-9501 for tickets