by DICK KEREKES
Theatre is going everywhere. In the last few months I have seen plays at a museum, a symphony hall and last weekend at a gay nightclub. First Coast Theatre Arts opened Charles Busch’s Die Mommie Die. It will continue for three more performances on the 17th, l8th, and l9th at the Metro 2929 Plum St in Riverside.
Charles Busch is one of the most unique playwrights on the American scene. He not only writes plays but usually stars in them, playing female roles. You may have seen his Psycho Beach Party at Players by the Sea a few seasons back. His Vampire Lesbians of Sodom was done here some years ago.
The plot concerns a very dysfunctional family in the l960s, living in the movie world of California. Angela Arden is a washed up movie singer, who is attempting a comeback. She has two children. Lance (Charles Brown) is a gay- druggie teenager who adores his mother. His greatest accomplishment was getting the role of Ado Annie in a college production of Oklahoma. Edith (Erin Searcy) is her sexy daughter who is in love with her father (maybe too much), and hates her promiscuous mother. Reggie Cauthen plays Tony, an out of work sit-com actor who is now mainly a gigolo, who dresses snappy and looks for deals he can profit by. The family’s long time maid, Bootsie (Harriet Leathem) is a scripture spouting, Republican, alcoholic who has her own secret sexual desires. Sol Sussman (Robert Pogachnik) is Angela’s husband and a hard driving owner of a not so successful movie studio. One of his claims to fame is his constant constipation that is cured with the world’s largest suppository (laced with arsenic). The latter by the way is the funniest scene in the play.
Bill Kroner not only directed the play but plays the leading role of Angela Arden as an over the top drag queen. Kroner is very funny and quite good and apparently perfect for the role, if I am to believe one of the ladies in the audience who commented on his great legs. Kroner wears a dozen or more different very stylish and glamorous outfits and puts on quite a fashion show. All the costumes were excellent, and I noticed a credit for the Hubbard House Thrift Store who apparently provided most of them. Wow, ladies, if you are looking for some high class clothing, better check this store out.
In a Charles Busch play you can find a lot of bizarre adult situations. Die Mommie Die, has it, all, sex, drugs, murder, deception, double crossing. It you like your theatre campy, this is the ultimate.
First Coast Theatre has been on a hiatus for a couple of years, ever since they lost their Riverside location due to a renovation and rent increase by the landlord. This is a by- the- boot-straps organization that has produced some very unique plays for many years. They did this without benefit of grants, or a financial benefactor, but by frequently dipping into their own pockets and through box office receipts. I have always referred to them as Jacksonville’s answer to Off Off Broadway type theatre.
The Metro was certainly a good choice to produce this play. Although it is not strictly theatrical lighting it worked well for this one scene living room location. It is intimate theatre, and a bargain at only $10.00.The place has a real New York feel, with a full bar available if you so desire.
Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 and the final Sunday show on the l9th is at 3 p.m.
Over all I thought the acting was very good for this type of preposterous show that has a lot of laughs and a plot with some interesting twists. Call 387-5276 for reservations.
Die! Mommie, Die!
by DICK KEREKES