Savvy Secrets of Successful Mistresses

nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
July 9, 2013

It's a musical one-woman-plus-accompanist show about how to be a good mistress, or rather, how to be America's Next Top Mistress.  Dr. Faith (Lisa Faith Phillips) is a best-selling author who wants the women of the world to know how they can control men and themselves.  With help from keyboardist Mistress Ethel (Ellen Mandel),  she sings her way through seven indispensable lessons.  In case you weren't listening, each lesson is punctuated with a smack of her crop.

Perhaps surprisingly, some of these lessons are the work of men.  The song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (words: Leo Robin, music: Jule Styne) is in the show program, and those who don't sing along face consequences.  In the song, we learn that women need to accumulate wealth in order to stand on their own. The funny part is how Dr. Faith takes this to the next level.  She relates that men own 97% of the wealth, and that women commit 3% of all violent crimes.  She concludes that it is nice to have a mirror on your glass ceiling, and that is where you can see Hillary's crack.

More lessons explain how to be a bad girl, how to live in the big city, and how not to have guilty thoughts.  The self-control needed to be an independent woman, Dr. Faith implies, comes from being a dominatrix.

Dr. Faith and Mistress Ethel often stand there chortling escatically about their past conquests, or having whip battles.  But there is much more to learn: why you need neither to understand the man nor to be understood.  How you can avoid cooking 40 years' worth of marital meals in exchange for one day in a white dress.  The audience seemed engaged.  The show illustrates that the bored married men and women who have affairs have been married a long time.  Perhaps some of the humor and pathos of this went over my head.  However, I relate to the elegant music in this piece, including Marlene Dietrich riffs and other displays of unforgettable feminity.  I think this show will succeed nicely in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it is headed next month.  

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