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July 26, 2014
Review: Drop Dead Perfect
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Everett Quinton and Jason Cruz in "Drop Dead Perfect". Photo by John Quilty.

The son of Phineas Fenn - a skinny Hitchcock presenter - invites the audience to share in his father's covert history, and everybody's off to summer camp, as it were. Drop Dead Perfect by Erasmus Fenn (funny about the names, eh?) then reveals the twisted relationships between Idris Seabright, her ward Vivien, her unexpected nephew Ricardo, and that paternal Fenn himself.  Absolutely everything is a gumbo of noir, Golden Age TV, a dash of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, and truly wonderful vintage costuming. In no time at all, you lose any concerns about what this thing is and where it's going because it is clear that the laws of physics do not apply -- not in what is essentially a gay dream had after downing a bottle of Nyquil after an evening in front of a retro channel. It's tempting to describe Drop Dead Perfect as a trailer park Sunset Boulevard, but such ridiculousness needs no categorization. All it needs is the ridiculous, and this Fenn dishes up like a stoned cafeteria lady.

You will come away from Fenn's play with the eerie sense that Everett Quinton's Idris is too reminiscent of Lillian Hellman for comfort, and that a Lucy motif, even in madness, requires a little cohesion - that is, if an Ethel May Potter is tossed in the mix, she should be running the drug store and not an antique shop. But you will tell yourself to shut up and not sweat it because it's all good, perverted fun. You will as well be impressed by a gloriously old-fashioned set, actors not wearing microphones, and the unlikely reality of harmless incestuous lust. You will sense that director Joe Brancato clearly steered along a cast in sync with his commitment to well-choreographed insanity. The players, by the way, are swell, and more in tune with one another than is seen in most uncrazy theater. The Ricardo of Jason Cruz, however, warrants extra praise, and not because of a bare ass; this young man manages to keep a cartoon believable, and that's something. As a matter of fact, and not all that ironically, the greatest achievement of the ensemble lies in its honoring of Lucille Ball's mantra regarding playing the ridiculous: believe it, believe it, believe it.

 

At the Theatre at St. Clement's through August 10.

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Written by: Jack Mauro
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