Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Gods and Goddesses"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Monica Raymond

Gods and Goddesses

Reviewed by Monica Raymond

Eliza Wyatt's Gods and Goddesses begins in classic comedy mode, with two sexy maids dusting a rich person's house. In this case,the house belongs to Ann (Alisha Jansky),a bone-thin, vitamin-popping city councilwoman who's planning to run for Parliament. But Rose (Andrea Lyman) and Violet (Rena Baskin)aren't actually maids--they're former prostitutes turned housecleaners now that the town brothel has been converted to luxury housing. And they aren't just here to provide exposition. Forty-something Violet's desire for a church wedding to George (Gershon Eigner), the Greek restaurant owner, is as close as we come to a thru-line in Wyatt's tender-hearted farce.

In fact ,the focus here is just about evenly divided between the ambitious Ann and her suicidal mother, Viv; Violet and George; and Tori(Nitzan Halperin),the potty-mouthed young waitress from George's restaurant and Solly(Shelley Bolman), the transvestite who picks her up off the street. Rounding out the gang is Father Alan (R.C. Jacobs),the priest who keeps changing his mind about whether Violet can haveher wedding at his church.

What's most winning here is the playwright's anarchic, live-and-let-live sensibility, and her astute eye for relationships, no matter how unorthodox. She has a particular gift for creating eccentric, endearing male characters. Gershon Eigner shines as the anxious, infatuated George who believes his Violet is "a goddess."

And Shelley Bolman is hilarious as the hippy-dippy cross-dresser Solly,who wears shiny Indian shirts and bedspread skirts, because, he explains, they're what he saw on his mother.

Wyatt directs her own work here, and as I waited through the awkward scene changes, I sometimes wondered how well the director was really serving the playwright. The stage is narrow, the blocking crowded, and only one of the sketched locales, George's restaurant, really works.But Wyatt's new turn on the classic comedy wedding makes all worthwhile. In fact, the full-out ensemble playing at the end left me wishing for some other scenes of all-out full-cast madness.

Yes, this is a script that definitely deserves crisper timing and spiffier production values. In the mean time, go see it in this ramshackle seaside production. This strangely wholesome and cheerful piece about deviants and gender outlaws is up for one more weekend at the West End Theater in Gloucester.

"Gods and Goddesses" (till 22 August)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide