Hopscotch: Not for little girls anymore

Hopscotch: The New York Sex Comedy

Written and directed by Wendy R. Williams
Texas Toast Productions
The Red Room
85 E. 4th St. (212/841-5410)
Non-union production (closes Mar. 5)
Review by Charles Battersby

Hopscotch: The New York Sex Comedy lives up to its title. Set in NYC and brimming with sexy model/actresses, it also proved quite funny. It's not so much a play as it is a series of funny scenes held together with a twisting plot that serves as a framing device. The individual scenes are funny unto themselves, but the overall story never quite brings all the characters together, and leaves too many loose ends. The forthcoming sequel, Hopscotch II, promises to tie up these hanging plot threads, but Episode I doesn't end with a cliff hanger, leaving little anticipation for Episode II (Would it have killed the writer to have someone frozen in carbonite?).

Despite the lack of a linear story, the script was entertaining; full of double entendres and subtle witty humor, plus some great one liners: "Evis Presley is sniffing my panties!" Unfortunately writer/director Wendy R. Williams chose to direct with the "louder is better" philosophy. Although mostly funny, the outrageous, larger-than-life characterizations often trampled the finer humor of the script.

Hopscotch's press release touts the play's "cast of attractive young actors," but "young" frequently means inexperienced, and performances ranged from too little to too much. This was never more apparent than when Christopher Frey and Steve Moramarco were onstage together. Frey and Moramarco howled, jumped around the stage, and beat each other with whips in what looked more like a scene-study class at the Chris Farley School of Acting than an actual play.

At the opposite end of the performing scale were Diedre Kilgore and Joel Moss. Although they were directed to give the same campy performances as the rest of the cast, Kilgore and Moss's scenes together stood out. Maurice Neuhaus also gave just the right amount of camp to his flaming Image Consultant character.

The sound tracks that accompanied each scene helped established the setting and tone. This was particularly helpful since the Red Room's black-box theatre allowed only a modest set. While the set wasn't impressive, the furniture was moved around between scenes by two gorgeous go-go girls (Remy Crane and Dani Marco) who wore corsets, fishnets, stiletto-heeled boots, and little else. Almost as entertaining as their costumes was the comic business incorporated into the set changes. Crane and Marco kept trying to stay onstage after changing the set, only to be repeatedly thrown off the stage by the cast.

The costumes were fabulous, with Kilgore and Allison Wightman strutting about in ultra-sexy outfits, and the aforementioned stagehands were dazzling in their go-go attire. The men, however, suffered from some lackluster outfits (which went mostly unnoticed since all eyes were on the ladies).

Falling somewhere between Saturday Night Live and Sex And The City, Hopscotch proved to be more sexy than funny, yet displayed a potential for greater laughs that might be realized in future productions. It also had Crane and Marco: THE BEST STAGE HANDS IN THE HISTORY OF THEATRE!

(Also featuring David Adelson.)

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2003 Charles Battersby