Toga party

Aphrodite's Dungeon: I Want What I Want

By Judy Sheehan
Directed by Justine Lambert
Looking Glass Theatre
422 W. 57th St. (307-9467)
Non-union production (closes November 8)
Review by Adrienne Onofri

The Looking Glass Theatre has discovered the formula for late-night success: Take Greek mythology, the battle of the sexes and our fascination with celebrities; mix liberally with parody, profanity and audience participation; and serve in a colorful, musical package for one hour. Those are the ingredients in I Want What I Want, the third installment of the so-called "interactive talk show of the gods," performed on weekends at 11 p.m.

Judy Sheehan wrote the original episode of Aphrodite's Dungeon, a hilarious send-up of some of the best-known gods and goddesses and the complexes and conditions named for them (echolalia, narcissism, etc .). She may have used up her best material in that show but still came up with some clever puns and characterizations in I Want What I Want.

One funny thing Sheehan did was give the gods the personas of modern-day celebrities. Thus, Oedipus - since he's the King and "everybody's favorite mama's boy" - speaks, sings and eats like Elvis Presley; Athena, being the goddess of wisdom, is the model of English decorum, resembling Princess Anne; and Zeus, perhaps because of the young nymphs hanging all over him, is Woody Allen. Sheehan also invented some gods for this episode: Analysis, personified by Dr. Ruth; Testosterous, a belching, musclebound lunkhead; and Premenstruous, who can't get her hair or makeup right and must be sedated with Fritos and a Snickers bar.

Testosterous and Premenstruous are the ones responsible for all the mayhem in Aphrodite's Dungeon III, as they exert their influence to bring out the worst in the men and women, respectively. This leaves Aphrodite struggling to regain control of her talk show and her mood swings. The result was a raunchy comedy that was visually if not always verbally dazzling but offered free cookies for all.

When the script of I Want What I Wantfaltered (most notably, during the "commercial breaks"), the cast kept the ball rolling with infectious, enthusiastic performances. Lea Pinsky was a shapely and temperamental Aphrodite. Paul Vinger was very natural and cute as the stage manager. Malcom Smith was amusing as he displayed every repulsive male habit as Testosterous. Katherine James, Ann Marie Lindbloom, and Kathleen Wallace were remarkably versatile in appearance and accents in their multiple roles. The other actors were good too, although David McCallum couldn't pin down Woody Allen's mannerisms.

A real scene-stealer in Aphrodite's Dungeon III was the costumes, designed by Erica Nilson. From Aphrodite's bondage gear to the kaleidoscope of togas, Nilson's creations were imaginative and becoming. The details on certain costumes not only served as sight gags but added to character development-Testosterous, for example, wore a tank top and boxers under his toga and a weightlifting belt on top of it.

(Also featuring Sarah Bannister, Suzanne Cannizzo, and Brandon McGlone. Sets/Sound, Kenneth Nowell. Lighting, Kathryne Alfred.)

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

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Copyright 1997 Adrienne Onofri