All money is green

Cafe Bimbo

Written and directed by Sid Branch
W.O.W. Cafe
Non-union production (closed)
Review by John Chatterton

The premise for Cafe Bimbo has potential: a female dancer tricks with a rich businessman once a week to help support her dancing; he wants to move in on her, make more of a commitment; she splits, both in disgust at him and from pressure from her company's blacker-than-thou artistic director; he, without batting an eye, homes in on the artistic director (who is, ultimately, more interested in his money than in the racial purity of her Art).

Sid Branch's first script lacks the lightness and sureness of touch needed to pull off this one-act comedy, but the short evening offered many recompenses nonetheless. In particular, the acting of Timolin Williams (as the not-black-enough dancer, also known as ``the mulatto embarrassment'') and Mark Hamlet rose above the stiff dialogue and play structure that hampered Mildred ``Dred'' Gerestant in her dramatic debut as Adelle, the artistic director. Angelina, tending bar, made an impish impression with her few lines and ironic body language; Lehxa, as the grantwriter for the dance company, didn't have much of a role to make an impression in.

The set design by author Branch was a wonderful collage of tacky bits that would appear in a tacky coffee bar, including an array of charming mannequins (complete with program bios) under such names as ``Miss Golden Legs,'' ``Rosemary's Sister,'' and ``Jo-Dyke.'' (Mannequin dresser, Rosemary Delain.)

The sometime oobr-Award-winning W.O.W. Cafe has an excellent sound system, which did justice to a diverse and appropriate musical selection as sonic backdrop to the production. The lighting did its primary job -- illuminating the actors -- without aspiring to a higher cause.

Costumes, uncredited, showed a sense of character -- for example, the leopard wrap skirt and black top of Adelle.

The W.O.W. Cafe, located on East Fourth Street near the Kraine, is a little different from most theatre companies, in that it is a women's collective (Mark Hamlet's presence was an exception, apparently). Any woman can join, and there are few if any rules. The result is a certain amount of anarchy, and it is no doubt harder to impose quality from the top down, in the manner of the traditional artistic director, since they don't have one. But the upside is that everything done there is fresh and different, which more than makes up for the lack of an autocratic artistic management. Box Score:
Writing 0
Directing 1
Acting 1
Set 2
Costumes 2
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1997 John Chatterton

Return to OOBR Index
Return to Home Page