Could we repeat the bidding, please?

The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale

By Lissa Moira and Richard West
Directed by Lissa Moira
Theatre for the New City
Non-union production (call for dates and times)
Review by John Michael Koroly

In previous outings, Lissa Moira and Richard West have lampooned America's sexual mores through satiric skits and playlets. This time out, they've gone into what's close to a pure burlesque style to take the audience on a tour of the century's erotic highlights (and, more often, lowlights).

Through song, dance, and spiel, a chorus line of auctioneers hocks various talismans of our era's sexually defining moments.

These include everything from one of Freud's cigars to a ``slightly singed'' bra once owned by Gloria Steinem. The authors can, though, get a bit obscure in their references. Al Capone's key to Clara Bow's hotel suite just doesn't have the same kind of symbolic power as Mae West's diaries.

Moira and West's weakness for the pun, often a drawback in their previous shows, fits perfectly with the broadly risque style here. And a few of the numbers genuinely draw blood, such as a bewigged Shirley Temple impersonator singing ``On the Good Ship `Pedophile.''' Another standout is a cover of ``Those Were The Days, My Friend'' set in a '70s gay bathhouse.

Moira directed the show with a fine feeling for the pace of an old-fashioned bawdy revue: get out there, hit the punchline, and move on. She also worked well with choreographer Larl Becham in staging several well-done dance numbers that both moved the action forward and were enjoyable in and of themselves.

Moira was less a presence in the cast than is usually the case but still contributed with a number of droll line readings. West is listed as a ``hip sage'' in the credits, and indeed he was, laconically sharp in his delivery and guitar serenades. Cynthia DeMoss's turn as the ``Angry Horny Feminist Auctioneer'' was memorable. Honor Moor walked an intriguing line between ``broad'' and ``arch'' in her readings. (Moor also designed the set, a campy swirl of sexy movie posters and period memorabilia.) The show was stolen, though, by Eric Moreland as a Calypso-singing commentator who strolls through the goings-on, his slinky grace and knowing edge a fascinating combination.

This show's format would work very well in a cabaret setting, possibly at the Duplex or Don't Tell Mama, two bistros that have embraced alternative revues. In any venue, though, The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale is a sharply written, wingedly directed, very amusingly acted work of satire and well worth catching and enjoying.

Box Score:
Writing 2
Directing 2
Acting 1
Set 1
Costumes 1
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1997 John Michael Koroly

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