nytheatre.com review by Joanne Joseph
In two acts and seventeen scenes, two women embody an array of
characters, treading the thin line between comedy and pathos,cliche and
August 15, 2002
Caitlin Barton, who hails from Brooklyn, is Fannie, a convincing non-posh Londoner who designs wigs and ends up having to deal with Lower East Side NYC denizens who drift into Patsy's Wig Shoppe while she tries desperately to be a good working girl. Jamie Melser is Peggy, who is from the American South and is a lazy employee, to say the least.
Fannie and Peggy are both victims of bad behavior—by boyfriend or other circumstances—but the arc of their relationship reaches a decent rapprochement after all. Barton and Melser, who also wrote Wig Shoppe, play numerous other characters as well whose story lines weave through the evening cleverly. Melser is especially sharp as Dana, the Public Relations queen party scammer. Barton becomes fashion maven Mme Hermes and a male cop who comes to the shop to cross dress. Director Calvin Landis plays John, who works in "Distribution" at Gray Advertising.
Remarkable to this reviewer—it is either felicitous costuming, or a massive Martha Graham upper body contraction, or both, that transforms Melser from a full-busted female to a concave, flat and scrawny dirty old man, who apparently is shell-shocked by the death of John Kennedy. NB: "Hail to the Chief" signals not only JFK, but all other US presidents, so this musical reference was not instantly clear.
Musical interludes go on at some length, because the character transformations, forth and back, costume-wise, take time.
Cliche and stereotyping are narrowly overcome in some scenes, by good acting...the little old man's lady love is not a woman, but his dog; John is not "somebody" but a mail room clerk; the Brit wig designer is not all she claims to be either. The actors have learned character work well. Wig Shoppe will have a full production in October in midtown.