Sunday, April 12, 2009
The Superheroine Monologues (April 10th thru the 26th at the Boston Playwright's Theater)
There are times when you really wanna believe in a play very badly especially a play about A-list super heroines...and after all who doesn't like Wonder Woman and Batgirl?
Well liking certain characters isn't the same as doing well by them. So I guess local writer-performers John Kuntz and Rick Park deserve kudos for at least trying to do something different and zany with a disparate group of well know comic book super heroines. I just wish the result was less labored.
It is a well worn set up, this time a bunch of super heroines, (Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Storm from the X-Men etc etc) regale an audience with their real story, the heartbreak, the self revelations, the pain the anguish and all the usual gags about lip gloss, period piece jokes and lingering crushes on Shaun Cassidy.
The show is sad to say, wildly uneven to say the least, with Elizabeth "Catwoman" Brunette, Amanda "Lois Lane" Good-Hennessey and Shawna "Wonder Woman" O'Brien as the show's stand-out performances.
In fact, I suspect Ms. Brunette to be a successful clone of Julie Newmar...I mean the resemblance is that close and as for Ms. O'Brien if a Wonder Woman feature film ever gets off the ground, she deserves an audition she is that good.
The rest of the cast has to get by on being merely excellent in every way...too bad the writing disappoints on a irritatingly regular basis...cuz these actresses are in there punching away with gusto. In particular I'd like to do a quick shout out to Christine "Phoenix" Power and Jackie "Supergirl" McCoy who never flagged for a moment despite being saddled with some very dubious material in their monologues.
Yes indeed this is a soft-R-rated show with heavy use of lesbianism, homosexuality, mommy-daughter conflicts and OCD to sell the drama and set up the laughs. By the time poor Melissa "Batgirl" Baroni takes to the stage you can tell the writer's are playing a tangled game of "connect the Big Ticket Problem to the heroine", as a consequence the show bogs down, a lot.
This is a shame, because the show does have good quota of laughs but the need to be...relevant and or contemporary just kills things time and again. For example an attempt to orientate Catwoman's origin with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy simply imposes a tasteless graceless moment into an otherwise su-freakin' perb performance by Elizabeth Brunette.
By the time we stagger to the epilogue spotlighting an older careworn Wonder Woman (now played with panache by the Bette Davis-esque Maureen Aducci) everyone was checking their watches and shifting uncomfortably in their seats. Moralizing and gags (however funny) about the Incredible Hulk's man-junk just don't mix.
Costume roles are tough, either you bond with the costume and sell it hard or you feel like a horse's ass in your cape and boots, let the record show all these women owned it from start to finish.
I wish to stress, this was a great cast in every way, I can pay these women no higher compliment than to note that we'd love to get any of them to read at the next bad Poets Society....cuz their individual charisma came thru loud and clear. All I can say is, Cheryl Singleton, are you available in October??
And if Rick Park and John Kuntz (who have talent by reputation so I am told) are serious about this script they could easily cut the whole mishaugas down to a very tight and much funnier 75 minutes sans worry or woe.
Think on it guys, that cast you have is one in a million.