The question isn’t whodunit? But why did they do it? I am still bewildered by this dreadful play starring Everett Quinton who portrays a wealthy hot to trot woman of a certain age, Idris Seabright, who has a penchant for painting still lifes, cavorting with a hot young Cuban hunk (cursed with a huge you-know-what) who resembles her long lost lover (who also obviously had a huge you-know-what), wielding a hatchet and changing her fifties frocks and will at will. It quite literally is a drag. The actors do their best with what they have and the production itself is handsome (Set: James J. Fenton; Costumes: Charlotte Palmer-Lane; Wigs: Bobbie Zlotnik).
A handsome hodgepodge of Hitchcock in the Florida Keys circa 1952, I Love Lucy, melodrama taken to its melodramatic limits with a few magic tricks thrown in to awe the audience. They don’t. Mostly the audience reacts stoically with a chuckle here and there.
It’s a tribute gone awry to the Ridiculous Theatre Company created by Charles Ludlam. He was a genius of this genre and must also be bewildered from the beyond by the shenanigans on stage at the Theatre at St. Clements where this production is scheduled to run through October 11th. That will take lots of magic to pull off.
Just the announcement that Everett Quinton (who was the partner of Charles Ludlam) and heir to the zaniness brought to great heights by their company brings expectant guffaws as he is also a master of this type of high camp comedy. Not here.
Unfortunately there is little to laugh at this time around and this would-be thriller is lacking that most important aspect of a thriller. Being thrilling. It’s D.O.A. (dead on arrival) and I remember laughing once and wincing at the same time. Vivien (an excellent scene stealing Jason Edward Cook – the new drag on the block) gets to fall down an entire flight of stairs on her backside brilliantly and hopefully not too bruised.
Vivien is the lame ward of Idris, She has a penchant for sculpting penis art, a lawyer with a Southern drawl (Phineas Fenn – Timothy C. Goodwin who doubles as a narrator), the aforementioned hot Cuban hunk – Ricardo (a smooth Jason Cruz who gets to bare his buttocks) and dancing some hot Latino numbers choreographed nicely by Lorna Ventura.
The plot thickens like pea soup without involving us even remotely. Music swells at appropriate moments. There is a gun and a hatchet and a gold fish and an annoying off stage dog that barks. Nothing is left to the imagination that will all but be deadened by this lame production.
Supposedly the author is first time playwright Erasmus Fenn. But is it? That’s the real mystery behind DROP DEAD PERFECT, directed by the usually fine Joe Brancato who this time round doesn’t have a clue.
Photos: John Quilty
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