Sunday, January 26, 2014
The Tribute Artist ***
If you are not a fan of Charles Busch's brand of female impersonation or of the kind of silliness that is often based on vulgarity, you can skip this play and the rest of this review. If, on the other hand, you enjoy high camp, you'll want to get to 59E59 for his newest play's Primary Stages premiere. To call the plot "convoluted" would be to oversimplify it; "preposterous" is a closer fit. The characters are Adriana (Cynthia Harris), a dying dowager with a townhouse in Greenwich Village; Jimmy (Busch), a drag queen --- oops, forgive me, celebrity tribute artist -- who stays with Adriana when he is in town; Rita (Busch stalwart Julie Halston), their lesbian friend who is an unsuccessful real estate broker; Christina (Mary Bacon), Adriana's feckless estranged niece; Oliver (Keira Keeley), Christina's teenage son who until recently was Rachel; and Rodney (Jonathan Walker), Adriana's shady long-lost lover. The madness does not reach the inspired level of Busch's "The Divine Sister" and it drags in spots [pun intended] but there are lots of funny lines along the way. Anita Louizos's townhouse living room set is sumptuous, Gregory Gale's costumes are droll, and Katherine Carr's wigs are perfect. Carl Andress, Busch's long-time director, does the honors again here. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes including intermission.