"Great fodder for Broadway!"
SEX ON TRIAL
A Rollicking, Frolicking Romp
By Anne Costello (NYC INFORMER 2014 Review)
It had rained in Greenwich Village during the afternoon that I went to see SEX ON TRIAL. The rain left the air fresh and good. Somehow, it seemed like a long time since I had been in the village having lived there for a few years; I realized how much I missed it.
I was happy to come upon an old village structure called “The Duplex.” You may have heard of “The Duplex,” a gem of a cabaret theater … Mabel Mercer sang here. In contrast to the soaked sun outside that still shed brighter light, the barroom was dark, of course, but very intriguing, like a place where anything might happen. We were told the performance” Sex on Trial” was about to begin, so we were ushered into a narrow, but substantial room with little round cocktail tables with chairs and with a stage at the end of the long room. Expecting anything … what happened was everything. Theater a la Carte on the menu. First, enters a lovely robust girl wearing ribbons and bows and sings, Babyface. Then in comes a person wearing a derby and a crumpled dark man's suit, facing us with microphone in hand…we become the radio audience as the latest hot news items are thrown at us. Ah, its none other than Walter Winchell, the famous news reporter of the 30's. Wait … it's not a guy, it's Stacey Smoker, a pretty, portly woman with a painted mustache playing the role … and my… isn't she good and glib with her fast-talking spewing of words. Also in the beginning, enters Cammi Cager as Tommy, the stage hand who later in the play is also hilarious as Commissioner McLaughlin.
They were joined by an entourage of fascinating characters, all spouting at great neck speed as they also delivered dialogue in the manner of broad comedy…ala the Marx Brothers…and they do a d____ good job of it. But wait…the makeup is great, so are the colorful costumes and then, after awhile… you realize they are all women… some of them are women sometimes and sometimes they are women impersonating men. It reminded me of some of the all girl's school and all boy's school … when their actors performed in plays … were destined to play both genders.
There was a good plot, too. With bootlegging in place, the reformer, brings in the police and wants time on the Walter Winchell radio show to air the causes and curses upon those lost souls who imbibe in sex and alcohol. What is going to happen to the latest profane May West Show in town? And what is going to happen to May? What's the verdict?
Time went on in pure enjoyment of the stage shenanigans,…but wait, isn't May West to appear? I was anticipating the show-up of this event and just when I was about to give up…there she was…the glorious, flamboyant May West as played by Judy Merrick delivering a delightful impersonation. It was worth waiting for. She then proceeded to sing all of Baby Face…It was a treat. Yet thoughts came… like-how about a little of that great May West twang that you delivered in your spoken dialogue…how about putting a little bit of it into the singing of the lyrics…and how about a corset for more of an hour glass figure with a little padding for the May West boobs. But all is forgiven. She still is a great May West and was also terrific in her enactment of Texas Guinan, the owner of the nightclub and Morgenstern, the producer of “The Drag.” The play is rounded out with a lot more talent: Serena Miller, Mandy Moore, Julianne Nelson, Elizabeth Irwin and Joann Farda,
Producer, Rodrigo del Solar has fodder for Broadway, who in these days of gloom, would appreciate the laughs. . Playwrights Charlotte Felman and Frederic Scoblete went bizerk in collaborating and having fun with this basically serious theme. They were very clever in all of the choices, the impersonations, the resurrected characters and in the choosing of hitting hard and making it all so zany and fun, fun, fun. It seems they were born to write comedy. Tony Macy-Perez, the director, abetted the message of the play with his imaginative and comedic staging in all of its hilarious disguises. Playing at The Duplex, Sunday, April 19, 6:30 to 9:30