What a crock!

Fiesta Ware

Written & Directed by Milton Diaz
La MaMa E.T.C.
6 East 1st St. (475-7710)
Equity showcase (closes March 8)
Review by Marshall Yaeger

This play is about a dashing haberdasher who collects radioactive crockery. He gives a party where people make out and get stoned; but he can't keep his pants on long enough to woo his Latin lover back to the sack.

These trivial pursuits threaten to become serious at the end as the author tossed some domestic violence and child abuse into the crock pot along with a soupçon of STDs-including the kind of crabs you don't want in soup.

The author-director's program credits promised far more than they delivered; and it was a toss-up as to which deserved the harsher criticism: the feckless writing or the lackadaisical direction.

Of course Mr. Diaz may have lacked so much confidence in his script that he allowed his actors to say whatever came to mind. Whatever the cause, there emerged the shaky discipline of an acting-class improvisation: sometimes amusing, sometimes sexy, but not well-crafted or finished.

Nevertheless, the valiant cast was often enjoyable, despite embarrassing accidents or lines like "This isn't working"-meant to signal a failed love affair, but generating belly laughs.

Steve Gormley as the hero had plenty of charm and sex appeal and worked his bubble buns off to overcome the preposterous dramaturgy of the play (such as people leaving a Manhattan apartment barefoot or in a bathrobe)-and almost pulled it off. Andreas Niedermeir, his love interest, was also rewarding to watch, although more skilled as a singer than an actor. (The playwright made sure we'd know about the singing with the line: "Why don't you sing something for us?")

Peter Shaw, though ever-amusing, was much too masculine to play a campy queen. Quite the opposite problem came from Lawrence Merritt, who sailed over the top of Quentin Crisp in a role described as "an aging British pansy."In his pointy red, and obviously pinching cowboy boots, it was hard to tell where camp left off and pathos began, as the former dancer glided through his scenes about as gracefully as Oscar Wilde stepping through truck tires.

Ms. Magali Amadei, listed as an "Italian supermodel," was certainly beautiful (as were most of the actors). But the play was not a beauty contest, despite its tendency to remove shirts and even pants ad lib.

Erik Singer and Ted Duncan as sexy gay men were fine. And Vincent Moreau as "Alvaro Cojones"did his best to exude a surfeit of testosterone.

Roberto Almagia and Antony Ferguson did the sets and lights, which were perfunctory at best. (The space is unforgivingly wide for an intimate theatre.) Montserrat Llado picked out some snappy costumes for the party where, at one point, the music got so loud you couldn't hear the dialogue.

Quite a stew.

Box Score:

Writing: 0

Directing: 0

Acting: 1

Set: 0

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1
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Copyright 1998 Marshall Yaeger