December 17, 1999:
Sexotheque: Adorable Sci-Fi Morality Play
through December 18
Running time: 1 hr, 15 min
All hail the Commercial State. To the right, we have the celebrity chamber, with its cellophane-skinned, undulating stars, bringing you the Totally Hot Dance House Party (whoooop-whoooop!). These girls are mouthpieces for the Nielsen people, but they return to their bodies "in the late-night fizz." Behind them is the Nielsen Center's control tower. Left is the Blahblue family in their TV-saturated living room.
This Fabulous and Ridiculous Theatre Company production is a kind of anti-consumerism "kill your TV" play. The action revolves around a battle for the Blahblues' consumer soul. On one side are the Nielsen people -- played humorously by both Jeremy Chernick ("God, I am so tired and cranky!") and Christopher Walrath -- whose goals are to obliterate the decision-making process and make people entirely product-dependent, household by household. The opposing camp is made up of the rare rebels who try to shake Mara Blahblue -- the family's teen daughter, played by Mern Davis -- "out of her mesmer."
The acting is strong in every corner, but audience attention continues to wander to the star room, where Cassie Neet (Sonya Tsuchigane), Brynn Waterthorne (Evita Arce), and eventually Tina Anshaw (Ronit Schlam) shimmy and hawk products. And the dialogue is at times almost poetic. The grocery store is called, appropriately enough, "Safeworld." One of the celebrities, who has invented a code language of left-right dance moves, admits, "It's hard to express love in flatness." It is even, despite plenty of jargon, fast-paced, courtesy of director AnnaCatherine Rutledge. Loud, vapid music, including -- what else? -- "La Vida Loca," helps move everything along.
There's something sort of improvised and adorable about staging a sci-fi morality play about TV at Emo's just after sundown. And this particular sci-fi morality play is pretty adorable to start with. Whenever the playwright admits in the playbill to being stoned during the entire writing of the play, trouble is usually afoot, but in this case, Mike Albo's script doesn't suffer overly from lame pothead humor. Sexotheque has the precise amount of depth you'd expect from a smart writer on drugs, which is some; it has the devoted director and enthusiastic cast necessary to make his message both coherent and cute.