Open: 03/25/10- Close: 04/03/10
The All-american Genderf*ck Cabaret|
Reviewed for TheaterOnline.com By: Lauren Wissot
As its bold and sprawling title implies Rapscallion Theatre Collective's "All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret" is out to push both buttons and boundaries. Directed by Krystal Banzon from a script by Mariah MacCarthy the show tackles gender stereotypes through an array of can't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover characters, from a hetero tomboy to a femme straight guy, from a feminist lesbian with a knee-jerk hatred of men, to a gay hairdresser who becomes a straight-basher. Guiding them on their journey to self-awareness and the shedding of black-and-white categories is an androgynous emcee named Taylor played by Becca Blackwell whose natural, easygoing stage presence is perfectly suited to the enlightened character.
In fact, the ensemble as a whole is engaging with a couple of true acting standouts, most notably Sofia Urista - who has the makings of the next Rosie Perez - as Devon, a celibate personal trainer whose libido is satisfied through her job. (When one character suggests Devon's like a dominatrix she dryly and readily responds with "a dominatrix for Crunch.") But to say that these performers - who tend to grow on you in the reassuring manner of the comfort food the sensitive but straight, Star Trek-loving Benji craves - are appearing in a cabaret is a bit misleading. While there are some hilarious numbers such as girly girl Allegra's "break up dance" (after being dumped via text message) to the song "Maniac" from "Flashdance," most of the show is a series of strung-together situations with rotating characters. Which gives "The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret" the feel of Paul Haggis's "Crash" meets "Friends" with a rainbow bent.
And herein lies the problem. While playwright MacCarthy has no shortage of ideas, and smartly eschews preaching to the converted for delving deep into the queer community's own narrow-mindedness, Banzon's direction does little to transform those ideas from a treatise presented onstage into a fully rounded theatrical production. We're often "told" rather than "shown," with narrator Taylor offering tidbits like the fact that seemingly shallow Allegra enjoys Bergman films, or Kate lecturing about "Pussies of America" in front of a music stand. Taylor even introduces sketches by their titles such as "A Haircut" or "A Training Session" or "Gwen and Her Laptop" (which is practically anti-theatrical). With the bare bones set, stylish twenty-something outfits, and minimal lighting and sound design the piece sometimes even seems like an actors' showcase, especially in the second half, which could have been cut entirely. (The subjects of gay-bashing and date rape, while presented with nuanced understanding, are only tangential to the genderf*ck theme and belong in a play of their own.) Indeed, the production doesn't end but simply peters out with Kate propositioning Taylor for a night of eating ice cream and screwing. Ironically apropos I suppose since "All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret" certainly has its sweet moments but they're just not enough to sustain a full-length show.
Under St. Marks : 94 St. Mark's Place