Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Diva Weekend"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 1998 by Beverly Creasey

The Ubiquitous John Kuntz

by Beverly Creasey

Does the man ever sleep? It seems like he's in every show in least he was in every show I saw last weekend. There was the Nora Theatre Company's spunky presentation of David Ives' "Mere Mortals": at his manic best as a desperate fly and at his most endearing as a peace-loving hard-hat on a girder high above the city.

Ives' zany sketches run the gamut from golf to God, from clever to lame, with star turns for six actors. Director Daniel Gidron and his merry pranksters get the most out of even the bizarrest of gags. Poor John Kuntz gets to be tortured by one of the boys from Brazil (played with frightening verve by Terry Donahoe) in a weird piece called "Dr. Fritz" and he gets to mate with an adorably flighty may-fly (the luminous Judith McIntyre) while being harangued by a hilarious Derek Stearns in "Time Flies".

Richard Snee adds elegance and a Cary Grant swagger to the daffy "Degas, C'est Moi" caper and Sara Shea gets to apply her crack comic timing to the savage send-up of Mamet in "Speed-The-Play".

I don't know how Kuntz managed the cross-town trip in less than thirty minutes, but there he was again in the SpeakEasy late night insomniac opera called "After School Special" over at the BCA. Just like his other original flings ("Freaks" "Actorz...With A Z"), the "After School Special" is peopled with wonderfully grotesque characters, all of whom think they are the star of the show.

This time Kuntz gets some help --- usually he plays them all himself --- from Rick Park. The two comedians make mincemeat of the traditional television specials for teens. In Kuntz' magnum opus (which runs past midnight!) two misfits vie for the Beauty Queen Title, but it's more like the Texas Cheerleader Mom meets Buck Rogers in spirit. He is aiming for the inane and he finds it, usually in drag. The script is a fabulous excuse for Kuntz and Park to wobble around in high heels and leopard tights.

Kuntz in pigtails looks suspiciously like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" and Park, in the wig which made "Greater Tuna" famous is a dead ringer for Tallulah Bankhead. Need I say more?

Who's awake at this hour anyway? I can't remember any more about the evening except that Park has great legs, and someone is an alien. Maybe that's how he does it!

"Mere Mortals" (till 8 November)
Boston Playwrights' Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON

"After School Special" (till 31 October)
Speakeasy Stage Company, BCA, 539 Tremont Street, BOSTON

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