Smelly parts

All Things Stinky: Five Short Comedies

Written and directed by Carl Gonzalez
Waterfront Ensemble
Midtown International Theatre Festival
New 42nd Street Theatre
348 W. 42nd Street, 2nd floor (279-4200)
Equity showcase (Festival closes Aug. 5; call for schedule)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Comedy is a painful thing. Why then is it funny? For example, nothing is inherently funny about slipping on a banana peel. But when the audience identifies with the situation, they laugh. They see themselves through the character and feel grateful they don't have to go through what the character goes through, and laugh from the relief. All Things Stinky, written and directed by Carl Gonzalez, for all its screaming and raving, offers very little to identify with.

Much of Gonzalez's writing seems to strive for a play in the mold of David Ives, who relies on quick, clever ideas, with his characters acting out a scenario until they get it right. Take for instance The Santa Detail. In this play, Macy's employees interview some 50-odd Santas (all played by Bruce Barton), and we get short clips from each Santa, very much like the "bell" technique employed by Ives. The premise is violated when the perfect Santa does arrive and they throw him out. If the Santas were all perfect, and the employees saw them as vulgar, and then a vulgar Santa arrived and they saw him as perfect, then the play would have the irony Gonzales was working for.

In Skanky Breath, Richard (Joseph Franchini) admits to his girlfriend Gwyneth (Leecia Manning) that he can't be with her because of her breath - she leaves, and then he becomes immune. The play would have been more effective if the problem with Gwyneth were left a mystery until Richard explained it to her; her leaving, followed by his becoming immune, would have been an amusingly ironic reversal. Instead there is a long early scene in which he explains the problem to a friend. Smelly Feet started the evening; it is about shoe salesmen repulsed by a woman with bad foot odor. (What is this with women who smell bad?) It's also hard to relate to any of the characters in Black Magic Woman, about a young hospital patient put into a room next to an obnoxious old woman who is dying. The old woman is such a monster that it's satisfying to see her destroyed. In The Sopranos Meet the Tenors, Gonzales wins. This piece, about The Three Tenors trying to interpret the bizarre lyrics of the theme music from The Sopranos, was simple but effective.

With the exception of Eli Ganias, who played an opera singer and Macy's interviewer with nuance, the cast mostly played their parts over-the-top, with lots of indicating. The uncredited lights adequately lit the performers but didn't really suggest a mood or location.

Others in the cast: Gia Bonavita, Michael Cleeff, Dawn McGee, Michael Giorgio.

 Box Score:

Writing: 0
Directing: 0
Acting: 0
Sets: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2001 Andrés J. Wrath