nytheatre.com review by Jonathan Warman
August 15, 2004
I know enough about script dynamics to know that High Cotton is lightweight fun. This parody/farce takes Shakespeare’s story of King Lear and his daughters and crosses it with several of Tennessee Williams' many Southern epics. The three daughters could stand to be campier still, but the two performers in High Cotton with the most gay appeal hit just the right notes. Legendary downtown drag queen Flotilla De Barge plays the saucy maid Partition, undercutting stereotypes with dry sarcasm (still, when will somebody cast Flo as something other than a hooker or a maid!). And the hunky Peter Maris wryly spoofs William’s manly leading male characters; when Maris swaggers on brandishing bourbon and a crutch, he's a far better Brick than Broadway’s Jason Patric ever was, and Maris is just kidding around here.
The FringeNYC theatre where it's playing had failing air conditioning (still a cut above the non-existent AC of the early Lower East Side years of the Fringe!); comedy is the first thing to wilt in the summer heat. I intellectually knew that most of playwright Lance Werth’s jokes would “land” (get a laugh, that is) with a less sweaty audience, but the Fringe audience I was with was too overheated to properly appreciate Werth’s comic gifts. This light-hearted romp deserves some love in a colder climate.