The song "What I Did for Love" can now be said to acquire new meaning with the arrival of The Pink Parrot, John Chatterton's goofily amusing soufflé of a sex comedy. The production is part of "2001: A Spotlight on Festival Odyssey."
It seems that Sam (Alex McCord) is having trouble finding a job. So much trouble, in fact, that he decides to dress as a woman in order to land a position as a secretary at The American Standard Snuff Company. While on the job, he meets with, and falls for, the boss's son Junior (Mark O'Connell). Sam initially thinks Junior is straight. With this thought in mind, he decides to undergo a sex change operation, courtesy of Dr. Peeler (Sean Dill) and his trusty (and busty) assistant Nurse Practice (Tristana Gonzalez). Will Sam go through with his plan? The answer is given at the play's conclusion, though not before we witness Junior's Bildungsroman by way of his encounters with, among others, Frank (Allen Jared), a slick co-worker who's attracted to Junior; Suzie (Ms. Gonzalez), Junior's girlfriend; and Junior's lascivious and tyrannical father (David Dotterer). The title, incidentally, refers to a tattoo placed on a strategic part of Sam's anatomy. Yes, an anatomist could learn an awful lot by seeing this play.
Charles Battersby's production evokes the long-vanished era of burlesque, although it's unlikely the shows at Minsky's were this raunchy. The pacing lagged briefly midway through the second act, but recovered in time for the play's conclusion. The story's central premise, that Sam is a male dressed in drag, was the production's most problematic aspect given the casting of the decidely female - and highly attractive - McCord. One had to constantly remind oneself that she was playing a man masquerading as a woman; this was never more difficult than in the scene in which she (or is it he?) provides Junior with oral sex - an attention-grabber if ever there was one (her donning of kneepads just prior to her "performance" was the evening's funniest sight gag). In fairness to Battersby, it would have been immensely difficult - short of casting RuPaul - to find an acceptable male performer to play Sam.
O'Connell accurately communicated the callow, sexually confused nature of Junior. McCord was wryly self-assured as Sam; and Jared gave his role an appropriately oily slant. Dotterer offered just a wee bit too much snarling as Junior's father; otherwise he did well enough as a randy hypocrite who has a fondness for turgid phrases such as "synergistic world views," all the while trying to bed every female within the tri-state area. The other cast members handled their parts with juicy gusto and impeccable timing, essential ingredients in this sort of play.
The production made effective use of the set, mainly office furniture that was periodically rearranged to signify scene changes. Tommy Barz designed and built a three-foot high flat meant to represent a park setting, behind which certain characters proceeded to "know" each other, in the biblical sense. Alan Kanevsky handled the lighting, and efficiently so.
The author offers no earth-shaking theory of human existence; that was not, after all, his intention. What we do receive is something of equal value: a generous supply of good, clean dirty fun. This Parrot, on the whole, warbles fairly well.
(Also featuring Belinda Bissonnette, Heland Lee, and Joe Okonkwo. Stage manager, Joe Montello.)
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Copyright 2001 Steve Gold