Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The New Century"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Beverly Creasey

Sure Cure for the Winter Blues

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Laughter is the best medicine, even better than a light box for seasonal affective disorder. Add to laughter, the energy of a dynamo named Tory Bullock and you’ve got theater that lightens even the dreariest of cold days. Bullock is the force behind Company One’s jazzy, infectious hip hop celebration called ARTiculation (playing through Jan. 24th at the Boston Playwrights Theatre) and he’s the ringmaster for SLAMboston, a sudden death playoff of short scripts judged Olympics-style on the spot.

John Kuntz, currently starring in New Rep’s CABARET, penned the SLAM winner (CANTALOUPE GIRLFRIEND) at 27.6 points, an odd little riff on marriage and gender politics. George Sauer took second place at 27.4 with TOILET TRAINING, a tongue in cheek primer on bathroom hook-up etiquette and the rest of the plays mostly follow suit in the happy land of the bizarre.

Across town, SpeakEasy Stage offers some raucous laughs (through Feb. 14th at the BCA) via Paul Rudnick’s irreverent THE NEW CENTURY. The CENTURY is divided into four short plays loosely connected by their outrageous take on gayness. The first two vignettes are the strongest, with Paula Plum as the queen bee of a support group for families of lesbian, gay, transgender, transvestite, perhaps even transcontinental children. You get the idea. Rudnick runs right to the goalpost with this spoof and Paula Plum scores a ninety-nine yard touchdown as the self-proclaimed “best mother” in the world.

Robert Saoud in fabulous white “televangelist” wig (a la Rip Taylor) and garish orange chinos makes the second play sparkle even before he relates his sad (read “hilarious”) tale of woe. Banned from the Big Apple for being “too gay,” even the Gay Taskforce out of Washington won’t have anything to do with him…so naturally he moved to Florida and onto cable access television. There he reigns supreme on the tiny cathode ray with the help of an unctuous assistant (Bud Weber) who you know wants the show for himself.

Rudnick gets his licks in on crafters and scrap bookers when Kerry Dowling arrives to sing the praises of felt and superglue. Emilie Battle and baby show up in need of guidance and Saoud’s Mr. Charles is pleased as punch to oblige. They all meet up by the end for a grand coda in director Paul Daigneault’s light (read “weight”) but clever gigglefest.

"The New Century" (16 January - 14 February)
Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA

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