Sunday, July 15, 2018

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey More Squirrels, Less Frenzy

I’m a fan of playwright Lauren Gunderson. Her SILENT SKY (about the unsung women of Harvard Observatory) won lots of local awards, not to mention her quirky, ursine filled EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR, which got a crackerjack outing at Theatre on Fire. Her THE TAMING (@ Hub Theatre through July 28th) however, has absolutely nothing to do with the Shakespeare version except for part of the title and several mentions of an endangered pygmy panda squirrel, misidentified as a “shrew.” And everyone knows, you can’t tame wild animals.

The thinnest of plots swirls around three females, an intense Beauty Queen (imagine Norma Desmond’s “close-up” gaze), a ruthless Republican operative, and a wacky left leaning activist dedicated to animal rights. So, from the get-go you know where I stand. My ears perk up whenever squirrels are mentioned. And my eyes glaze when humans start to winge. What’s more, I couldn’t make out a good portion of the dialogue because most of it is delivered at fever pitch and maximal volume.

The scary Beauty Pageant contestant (Sarah J. Mann) somehow (I have no clue) traps the Rep (Lauren Elias) and the Dem (Katie Grindland) in a hotel room without their pants but with a scheme to rewrite the Constitution. Warning: They remain pant-less through the play, regardless of century. Yes, they start in the present, then visit the past, then return… which results in one very funny line about the course of time: “In the future everyone will be gay.”

The remainder of the play, I’m very sorry to say, was lost on me, except for one section which inexplicably morphed (without the singing) into the musical, 1776: “It’s hot as hell in Philadelphia… Why doesn’t someone open up a window,” with the South Carolina indictment of Northerners, “Molasses to Rum to Slaves,” right on its heels. There I was, humming 1776 lyrics (thank heaven, to myself) for the rest of the show. I didn’t get the time travel or for that matter, how a beauty queen could possess magical powers. Then again, I’ve never been one, have I!