Pie Obsessed Drunken Fatties
nytheatre.com review by J Jordan
July 18, 2006
If there are two things in this world I can't resist, they're pie and plays with crazy titles. My experience last night watching Pie Obsessed Drunken Fatties at the Jewel Box Theatre offered both. No joke—there was free pie in the lobby and additional pie was served to select audience members during the performance. If free pie won't get you down to the 7th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival, then I don't know what will.
Pie aside, it's hard to point out exactly what P.O.D.F. is about. It promises pie obsession, drunkenness and, I guess, fattiness. It provides a taste of each, yet at 50 minutes running time, leaves you wanting more. I suppose that's a good thing. Other than references to pie—some vague, some front and center—not much ties the pieces together except the title.
The show is a series of vignettes about relationships, mainly failed ones. It's also about a '50s-style housewife who claims to have killed Santa Claus over her beloved carpet and a woman who decides to leave the debutante life to go back to selling cocaine after her husband leaves her. Oddball as it sounds, this last one is pretty funny.
The two writer-performers, Julie Perkins and Marjorie Suvalle, each with a fair amount of solo work under her belt, are more than capable of handling the stage on their own. It made me wonder why they decided to do a show together. In fact, they never really interact with one another except during a brief dancing interlude. Oh—did I forget to mention there's dancing? Well, there's a bit. Like less than two minutes.
It's a shame their two paths never intersect—both have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and I could see and hear the work each has put into cultivating her talents—the crystal clear speech, the good posture, the timing. Given each woman's command of the stage, I feel a real opportunity was missed in offering them a chance to duke it out over alpha-female status.
I wonder how often the director, Michael Ormond, has worked with solo-artists in the past; the actors in P.O.D.F. appear to have practiced their choreography so much it's no longer an art form but a science. While they engaged in a lot of interesting activities, at times the preoccupation seemed to keep them from truly inhabiting their characters. The one time I had a true gut reaction was during the final vignette when the actor's can of whipped cream accidentally went off in her apron pocket. I can't explain what happened or why—you just had to be there. Intentional or not, I hope she manages to find a way to keep that bit in—it was priceless.
At the end of the 50 minutes, the play is funny and the characters never cease to be interesting and entertaining. Both are ably backed by simple lighting, solid sound design choices, a modest set mindful that focus should be on the actors, and costumes that'll have you in the local thrift stores looking for cocktail dresses the minute you leave the theatre.