Sex, politics, and other obsessions

Beanie Baby Addiction

By Larry Myers
Directed by Charles Day
Theatre For The New City
155 First Ave. (254-1109)
Non-union production (closes February 14)
Review by Adam Cooper

Before the audience even got to enjoy the series of monologues that compose Larry Myers' new play, Beanie Baby Addiction, the program revealed through a reprinted news item that, yes, there really is a woman who was so addicted to Beanie Babies that she was sentenced to six months' jail time for fraudulent credit-card purchases to support her habit. Such are the obsessed, quirky, and loquacious personalities Myers presents in his latest work.

In a follow-up to Video Viagra, which played last fall at the same venue, Myers continues to jolt his audiences with delightfully bizarre, intriguing characters and politically charged themes. In a quick-paced, energized 100 minutes the audience experienced 25 distinctly American voices expounding on personal complaints, lusts, obsessions, and national issues.

Defined by their preoccupations, the characters all have something they must get off their chests (and sometimes off their whole bodies). Subjects vary widely in Myers's topical, sometimes devilish writing, which takes swipes at American society. Gay-bashing, rape, the Clinton scandal, hypocrisy, conspiracy theories, drug laws, prison construction, child neglect, lame modern actors, and gun control are just some of the issues touched upon.

Under Charles Day's able direction, performances ranged from adequate to captivating. Highlights included J.P. Donohue as the starry-eyed Paparazzi lamenting and overly identifying with the "old school" film legends while mocking today's young stars, Monte Zante as a self-aware hometown hairdresser who caters to and comments on his more disturbing clientele, Tommy Lonardo as Cody, a streetwise youth hustling Jerry Garcia's ashes, Patrick MacGowan as the unnerving Torch Singer who educates on the horrors of New York life, and Kathleen Carthy as the outspoken, violated Video Queen who not only rents videos but does interpretive impersonations.

Other notable performances were Evan Kovacs as Florida, a movie extra who plays the life-role of an unknown star, Richard Naers as a lifeguard with a burning concern over political issues, Alexander Erickson as the comically cynical Artist's Model who savors watching as much as being watched, Jeff Broitman as a self-assured radical streaker, Greta Enzer as the psychedelic off-kilter Single Mother Clown, and Monte Zante as Judy, a self- and film-loving posterboy for drag queens.

Multiple risers made up the simple set (Tony Angel and Mark Marcante). The highlight of the lighting design (Kyle Kasakaitas) was a distorted heart that symbolized the uneasy loves of many of the characters. Costumes were colorful, defining, and sometimes revealing as could be.

While the structure of this play precludes character change or a developed plot, audiences will enjoy spicy characterizations, witty jabs at American foibles, a healthy dose of nudity, and a number of powerful moments of pathos. After a full dosage of these often over-stimulated characters, they might feel anxious over unexpected encounters beyond the theatre doors. (Also featuring Tammy Peterson, Casey Fatchett, Chime, Lee Traxler, Hyansoo Lee, Ian McGrady, Larissa Laurel, Doug Dewitt, George Billeci, Suzie Kreitman, Joe Napoli, Tim Douglas, Megan Wallace, Jenn Vath.)
Box Score:

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

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Copyright 1999 Adam Cooper