Theatre Mirror Reviews - " 'Party" and " The Great Debate' "

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


Preaching To The Choir

"Party"

by David Dillon
Directed by Jason Southerland

Scenic Design by Stephen G. Smith
Lighting Design by Brian David Frey

Kevin..........................Gregory Nacozy
Ray.................................Brian Abascal
Phillip.............................Forrest Walter
Brian................................Brian Sawsey
Peter...................................Craig Houk
Andy........................Merrick McMahon
James...................Michael Lopez-Saenz

"The Great Debate"

Composer, Lyricist and Writer Mona Johnian
Directed by Tess Blankenship
Musical Direction by Gayle O'Hare

Sound Design by Donald Cobble
Lighting Design by Mark Foley
Costume Coordinator Diane Pesaturo

Eva.............................................Mary Mossberg
Adam..........................................Danny Gilroy
Rabbi/Job....................................Robert Vanaria
Satan/Darwin...............................Doug Marsden
Einstein.......................................James O'Hare
Clarence Darrow.........................Joshua-Paul Johnian
Philip..........................................Paul-Anthony Giglio
Ethiopian....................................Carol Duhart
Ensemble/Soloist.........................Bridget Kelly Sherman
Job's Daughter/Ensemble............Victoria Unni
Dance Soloist/Ensemble..............Yolanda Lilly
Mime...........................................Laurie Anslono
Dance Troupe
Kaitlyn Dondero, Ashley Ellis, Emily Ellis, Isabel Freitas, Rebecca Gouvalaris, Francisca Hernandez


I guessed even before I saw these two shows, on two successive nights, that "Preaching To The Choir" would probably be my headline. "Party" is less a play than a gay burlesque show, and "The Great Debate" is less a musical revue than an anti-evolution tract. Neither one is egregiously awful, there is good theatrical craft in both shows, but unless you are eager to see seven naked men romping unashamed, or want to giggle at silly old Charles Darwin's mistakes, don't go. The audience for each of these shows is very narrowly focused, and anyone who doesn't already know they like that sort of thing will just be bored.
I was, both nights.

Any show that has Darwin and the Devil played by the same person isn't a "Great Debate" it's a harangue. The message of this little sermon is simple: The tempting apple that promises knowledge must be resisted. When Job and his family are sent into death-camps, it's the actor doubling as Clarence Darrow who dons a Nazi swastika to do it. Darrow, Darwin, and Einstein stand little chance against such odds. The show will probably run through the entire next millennium somewhere in Oklahoma.

In "Party" a series of gay stereotypes convene to play a game like "truth or dare" designed to elicit a series of frank, erotic confessions --- but the objective is really to get all seven undressed for the final bow. The cast is at great pains to seem spontaneous and comfortable, but none are really people, merely bodies waiting to be revealed --- though witty gay banter abounds. There's one reference to condoms, but both fisting and AIDS are conspicuous by their absence.

Both of these productions played to packed audiences and received standing ovations --- though I'd be willing to bet I was the only person present at both shows. Each one was written for a specific audience that it thoroughly satisfies. But if you're not a choir-boy in that particular congregation, my advice is: Stay home.

Love,
===Anon.


"The Party" (till 23 October)
DOLLBOYZ PRODUCTIONS
The Institute of Contemporary Arts Theatre, 955 Boylston Street, BOSTON
1(617)931-2787
"The Great Debate" (till 2 October)
WYATT BARRETT PRODUCTIONS
Converse Hall, 88 Tremont Street, BOSTON
1(800)829-2631

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |