What: A play. A comedy (sort of)
Where: Dad’s Garage, 280 Elizabeth Street
When: 12 April – 11 May 2002
Dita and I were heading north on Buford Highway when she stumbled across the ad in the Creative Loafing:
“Look, here’s something for you – the Madonna Obsessive Support Group…”
“Gee, thanks. I know I’m a bit obsessed and all, but…”
“No, it’s a play… at Dad’s Garage.”
I completely forgot about it by the time I got home, but Dita emailed me a reminder shortly thereafter. I hadn’t been to Dad’s Garage since I was in college. Back then it was called “Actors’ Express”. How would Dad’s fare given the somewhat recent gentrification of Little Five Points? I went to the website and checked it out. And then I thought “what the hell – why not”? Was there ever a play more tailor-made for me?
The short answer is “no”. First of all, the environment was awful. Dad’s was hot. Steamy hot inside. Imagine watching a play deep in the heart of a Vietnamese jungle and you’ll get the idea. The play’s paper programs were quickly put to use as fans in this seething cauldron of community theatre. And the people at Dad’s were loud. Damn chatty, far worse than Chastain Park. And clumsy too. Idiots kept knocking beer bottles onto the floor, but I guess you shouldn’t expect much from a theatre that sells Bud by the bucket and won’t put carpets on the poured concrete floor.
But the play – the play’s the thing, right? Nope. Not this time. It was written by New York playwright Ron Morris. This guy must go hungry often. The play was predictable and stereotypical, full of the same caricatures you’d think “those people” would be loathe to portray: the sassy queen (your host), the bitchy fag-hag, the “cute little gay kid that had all the heterosexuality beaten out of him by his father”, and the “guy that’s kind of like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, but is a stalker too”. They come together as a support group for their Madonna obsession, only “hilarity” prevails when the real Madonna shows up to retrieve a video tape that Comic Book Stalker Guy has just stolen from her.
In a nutshell – and I hate to ruin the play here, but can’t you see it coming? – what happens is that each member of the support group gets their five minutes with Madonna, pouring their hearts out and coming to terms with their obsessions. If you think it looks “paint by numbers” here, you should see it live. Maybe I was just having an off night or something, but I just couldn’t “get into the groove” with the Dad’s Garage actors like I can with the Shakespeare Tavern actors. I somehow got the “we really, really, really wish we we’re doing this in New York” vibe from the actors instead of the “I’m just having fun because I’m acting” vibe. Lots of ego.
And if the play has funny moments, they’re unintentional. Like when the two female actresses try to out-vogue the gay guys. Please. Or the HUGE plot hole when the power to the apartment where all this is taking place – which had been cut off earlier in the play- suddenly works again and no one notices or mentions anything.
Was the play awful? No. Was it worth $15? Sure. But do I want to see it again? No. But hey – at least I had a fun time hanging out with Dita!
MY RATING: C+