note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
7 BLOW JOBS (not to be confused with the children’s story about a fly-swatting tailor called SEVEN WITH ONE BLOW) is Mac Wellman’s sardonic swat at the religious right. Theatre on Fire has forged a solid reputation as a smart, scrappy theater company which doesn’t shy away from edgy subjects---so 7 BLOW JOBS (playing at the Charlestown Working Theater thru April 5th) is right up their alley.
Wellman’s nasty little salvo at critics of the NEA (Remember Andre Serrano’s “Piss Christ?”) lands squarely on the desk of a conservative republican senator. (Is there any other kind?) Seven blurry photos of dubious composition set this Saturday Night Live-style satire on its merry way. Naturally, the senator’s staff sees sexual content. Aides and advisors salivate over the pictures and the paranoid senator cries “smear campaign.”
In the old days, the senator would be seeing red but nowadays he’s got “homosexuals” in his crosshairs. I’m reminded of an admiral appearing on NBC’s Nightline about “Gays in the Military.” He evidently didn’t realize what he was revealing about his latent Freudian wish/fears when he blurted out “They’re trying to force it down our throats!”: You can’t make up stuff like that!
It’s easy for us Bostonians to dismiss such conservative falderal but the real thing is much scarier than anything Wellman puts in his play. Making Pat Robertson and his ilk caricatures, detoxifies their real threat. When they have the power to tell us “what God intended,” we end up at war with our Bill of Rights in jeopardy.
Director Darren Evans gets over the top performances from Craig Houk in autoerotic ecstasy, from Kelly Rauch in tightly wound hysteria, from Susannah Melone in secretarial overdrive and Jeff Gill in senatorial psychosis. Steve Turner gets the best laugh of the evening as the righteous reverend who crosses himself and can’t stop gesturing until it’s the Macarena.
Colin Kiley and Jeffrey Charles Marcus are stand-ins for, well, each other (Don’t ask… or is it don’t tell?) Helen McCarthy’s paint-by-numbers portraits make the congressional set and Elizabeth Tustian’s costumes (a seersucker suit for the right reverend, Hawaiian shirts for the twins and a patriotic blouse for the attorney) are a hoot all by themselves.