nytheatre.com review by John Jordan
Perched like a queen on his throne (i.e., a lawn chair on the performance
space at Herbie’s, a typical middle American gay dive), Jeffrey Strouth
is a real-life, melodramatic ne’er do well telling unrelated story after
unbelievable story in American Fabulous.
August 15, 2003
Troy Carson stars in this one-man show, which he adapted from Reno Dakota’s 1991 independent film of the same name. In the film, Strouth plays himself, where his throne is the backseat of a ’57 Cadillac which roams the back roads of Ohio. Both the film and this stage adaptation are basically a narrative about his [highly exaggerated?] life experiences and oddball philosophies on life—anecdotes of his life as a gay man with white-trash roots.
Carson’s portrayal of Jeffrey Strouth reminds me of a young, heavily-medicated Harvey Fierstein, though I wish he would have more fun with the role. I definitely felt as if he was fighting for lines—repeating, repeating, repeating full sentences until the next idea popped back into his head. To his credit, performing a one-man show is not easy and he does a decent job keeping the audience interested for one hour and forty-five minutes without intermission.
Jonathan Warman’s direction is very simple and laid back, which works, but I definitely believe a quicker pace and stronger transitions between stories would make for a more polished production. The set (uncredited) was excellent—very simple and mood setting. The sound design (also uncredited) was mostly excellent (Dolly Parton, Elvis) and took me back to the ‘70s and early ‘80s, although one snippet of Madonna’s "Erotica" seemed completely out of place.
NeoNeo Theatre Company’s American Fabulous is quietly entertaining. Fabulous? No. This may well have been opening night jitters, although the show was performed for over a month last year in a popular NYC cabaret, with the same actor and director. A cabaret definitely seems like a more appropriate setting for this production, with a two-drink minimum, of course.