Critical Rant & Rave: Alexandra Bonifield
Posted: January 21, 2010
Gimme dat LUV! Dallas’ sweetest, funniest on stage romance springs back to life, this time at Teatro Dallas’ space off I-35. Audacity Theatre Lab’s Hello, Human Female regales its audience with farce, drag performance, true love, weird science and a hilarious twisted plot as the trials and tribulations of 37 year old virgin Tamela (Arianna Movassagh) and her man of many parts (35 different humans), Blork, played by hyperkinetic, deadpan comic maniac Jeff Swearingen, unfold.
If attending live theatre is like sitting down to a prix-fixed meal of the imagination, then Audacity Theatre Lab’s Hello Human Female is gourmet grilled potluck, peppered plumb full enough of implausible characters and wacky situations to sate the humor-seeking palate. It’s like watching Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman, except these folks mean to be funny and are aware they have an audience. Soap opera plot meets Lost in Space meets Young Frankenstein meets Lassie, Come Home and Wizard of Oz, Whew. In retrospect, the chaotic concatenation somehow channels Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with its over-riding theme of amor omnia vincit (LUV conquers all). In this case, LUV certainly does. Clean your plate, honey bun, and go back for seconds.
The secret to this effervescent, no-holds-barred romp? Matt Lyle, the playwright, currently resides in Chicago, where he’s studying comedy writing at The Second City and screenwriting with Chicago Dramatists. Director of the play and artistic director of the company, Brad McEntire, mounted and produced over fifty plays here in Big D then toured successfully to New York and Austin Fringe Festivals, before sallying forth in 2006 on an artistic sojourn to Hong Kong and other exotic, inspirational locales. There’s a brazen confidence herein, born of endless dribbling of ink on paper and much time spent clamoring to earn and keep the attention of maddeningly fickle audiences. These boys got it down to a science from the heart.
On stage, in the kick-ass dual role of codependent overbearing Mother in jog-suited drag and equally overbearing, smarmy Mad Scientist in gaiters is Jeremy Whiteker, with as much meritorious experience in performing in quirky, absurdist one-act originals as he has in straight ahead musical comedy. S/he is a hoot and a holler, a medium rare sight to behold and savor. Becca Shivers endears herself like a locomotive in overdrive in the gender-bending role of pre-teen boy “Timmy”, returns in Act II as the Mad Scientist’s humanoid sweetheart, a real honey-bee of a waspish creation. The star-crossed lovers, Jeff Swearingen as hump-backed humanoid Blork and Arianna Movassagh as perpetual innocent virgin in search of true love or an unreasonable facsimile, play off each other effortlessly with a fine balance of physical humor, crisp verbal repartee and droll song. Their duet version of “Somewhere Out There” ought to be filmed and posted on YouTube. Worth a reprise at play’s end! Stirring in a classical whiff to the madcap hilarity, Audacity regular Tyson Rinehart plays Homeless Harry (shades of Everyman) and Timmy’s aw-shucks, loveable Gramps. He lends a sober grounding to the enterprise, in a bizarre but comforting way. The narrator, seated stage right, adds the spicing of dry humor and perspective. Alas, the actor was not listed in the program handout, so I can not credit him. *
Audacity Theatre Lab’s remount of Hello Human Female runs through January 23 at the Teatro Dallas space, 1331 Record Crossing Rd. Dallas TX 75235. It’s a challenge to find the space but well worth the effort. The show will keep you smiling for an hour or two after you drive away and chuckling for days. Reservations and tickets: 469-236-2726