MADONNA IN "THE TITLE"
nytheatre.com review by Jonathan Warman
First things first: She's not in it.
Madonna's not in this show, she's only in the title of the show. Thus,
um, the title. The show tells the comic story of pretentious femmy
director Jaxx (Gene Dante) and his drugged-up producer lover Ger
(Anthony Mario Gelsomino, who wrote the show) trying to trick a
FringeNYC audience into buying tickets to a show that seems to star
Madonna, but actually only has her name in, you guessed it, the title.
That's the one big joke in this one-joke show. Well, that's not quite
fair: In an effort to make this a little more that a one-joke show,
Gelsomino throws about 20 puns per minute into the script. It's the
"throw it all out there and see what sticks" theory of comedy—and
amazingly enough a little under half of the show is gut-bustingly funny.
August 15, 2003
The downside: A little over half the time, the show is tiresome and obvious. There are a lot of lame jokes about sex and drugs. There's a pointless, unfunny subplot about the producer trying to get his wife (yes, his wife, don't ask) to commit suicide to finance the production. There are also avant-garde clich�s galore; for example, at one point the director vomits—the cheapest shock tactic in the book. Maybe Gelsomino is trying to make some sly comment about Madonna's propensity for the shocking. If so, there's got to be a more direct and comic way of doing it.
Director Eric Pilner keeps things moving at a breakneck "Ray of Light" speed, though he also seems to have coached his actors well about holding for laughs. And these actors give their all, especially Jane Aquilina as Ger's boozily bitter wife Sis, who's blessed with a riveting comic presence. Madonna in "The Title" is at its best when it’s not afraid to be goofy, at its worst when it’s trying to be edgy. It’s a fun lark that gets weighed down trying to take on too much. I can't recommend it wholeheartedly, but I wouldn't warn you not to go either: Its fun, but not big-time fun.