Sunday, August 23, 2015

Drop Dead Perfect **

Last year’s sold-out production of this camp melodrama by Erasmus Fenn (a pseudonym) was a Critic’s Pick by both the Times and Time Out. That information plus the prospect of seeing Everett Quinton of Ridiculous Theatrical Company fame again raised my expectations high for the current revival at Theatre at St. Clements. Too high, it turns out. While this overwrought tale of Idris Seabright (Quinton), a wealthy woman in the Florida Keys has its madcap moments, they are too few and far between.
While Quentin gets to wear a parade of knockout 50’s outfits, he doesn’t get enough opportunity to really show off his plummy acting chops. Jason Edward Cook is delightful as Idris’s ward Vivien who yearns to leave the Keys to find her way as an artist in Greenwich Village. (It wasn’t until I read my program afterwards that I realized Vivien was played by a man.) Timothy C. Goodwin is solid in the dual roles of narrator and Idris’s pill-pushing attorney who has his eye on Vivien. The sudden arrival from Cuba of the studly Ricardo (Jason Cruz) sets the overly complicated plot in motion. Ricardo is the son of Idris’s sister Lucy and Ricardo Sr. (Lucy and Ricky, get it?), who ditched Idris for her sister.
Cruz gets a non-frontal nude moment and a shirtless scene with ludicrously stuffed boxer shorts. The interior of a cozy Florida cottage of the 50’s is captured well in James J. Fenton’s attractive set. Charlotte Palmer-Lane’s period costumes are a hoot. William Neal’s sound design cleverly incorporates portentous clips from 50’s movies. Joe Brancato directed. It’s all very silly, but not quite silly enough. Running time: 85 minutes, no intermission.

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