note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Beverly Creasey
Theatre on Fire doesn’t shy away from off-beat scripts. To celebrate their fifth anniversary, TOF embraces the outrageous in Jordan Harrison’s ACT A LADY (playing at the Charlestown Working Theatre through May 1st). Harrison labors in the play to make a point about the value of art but the real point of ACT A LADY is the sensational drag: The TOF queens make it worth the visit. Greg Maraio in one of Eric Propp’s Victorian gowns doesn’t even need a script. Sighing, screaming, panting or “alluding,” Maraio is a show stopper.
Craig Houk and Chris Wagner are no slouches in the travesti department either. Chest hair even adds to the appeal of the décolleté. Strangely enough, cross dressing women just aren’t as funny. However, semi-cross is, in the person of Crystal Lisbon as the hilarious German accented, trousered director who sets the mayhem into motion in this Midwestern town. (These Midwestern en travesti entertainments were popular in the ‘20s, believe it or not.)
Director Darren Evans gets fine performances all around: from Lisa Caron Driscoll as the deadpan, disapproving wife (whose song about high-buttoned shoes is deliciously horrid) to Chelsea Schmidt as the spacey make-up artist, smitten with Houk’s alter ego.
In the course of the play within the play, Harrison inexplicably turns the women into the men’s personae. Do tell me, if you figure out why. In any case, the bodices alone are reason to attend AND IF YOU ATTEND ON CROSS-DRESSING THRUSDAY AS YOUR YIN (or YANG as the case may be) YOU GET IN FREE. Now that’s an offer you can’t refuse.