KPBS AIRDATE: March 21, 2003
It’s a theater dim sum — a little of this, a little of that — in a series of one-acts featuring a hilarious new work stuffed between a raunchy comedy and a gut-spilling melodrama. The triple bill brings back the homeless-and-much-missed Fritz Theatre, with its fourth mounting of “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” the 1976 David Mamet spoof that was his first Off Broadway endeavor. This is the 70s single scene in all its garish, vulgar glory. It was a time when men were macho and women were… sperm receptacles. Fritz artistic director Duane Daniels has cast well, and directed with a breezy, assured touch, returning to his earlier concept of cross-gender casting. The guys’ grossness is pretty funny out of the mouths of babes. Deja Bleu Ginsberg is especially comical as Bernie, the crass braggart, and Christopher White makes a deliciously nasty, man-hating female. The play may reek of polyester, but the title alone still draws in the crowds, and assures plenty of laughs.
The laughs come fast and furious in “State of the Art,” by local playwright Craig Abernethy. Set in a writer’s mind, it cleverly explores the process of creating a play. In Robert May’s witty direction, as clever as the text, three characters work out a script while they work out. The cast is terrific, riotously performing simultaneous physical and mental aerobics. Robin Christ is an energetic/frenetic life-force, with Ken Oberlander and Jessica John as her rapier foils. The rapid-fire dialogue is side-splitting, as they contemplate, “process-wise,” what they’re “doing, do-wise,” to determine what’s going to happen in the play, “place-wise,” “less-is-more-wise,” and most certainly, “spoof-wise.” The theater talk is a hoot; for example, a director is defined as “an easily threatened cretin who tells everyone where to stand.” The 3 get mired in the process and after they “begin the beginning” and hammer out a middle, they can’t quite figure out the ending. Same could be said for the playwright but still, for a new play and production, “State of the Art” is true to its name — in terms of writing, acting and directing.
And then comes part three of the Fritz triple-header. “Sisters” is a dark, relentless 20-minute drama by Gerald Zipper, directed by Al Germani. Jyl Kaneshiro plays bitter, sinister Annie, who visits her comatose sister in order to unleash a lifetime of sibling resentment. The acting leans toward histrionics and the play is kind of creepy, a downbeat ending to an otherwise fast-moving, amusing and engaging evening.
Now if you want to go through heaven and hell this weekend, check out Lamb’s Players’ provocative night presentation of the C.S. Lewis allegory, “The Great Divorce,” a huge hit last summer in England and a surefire theological conversation-starter here at home.
©2003 Patté Productions Inc.