Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail
nytheatre.com review by Lucile Scott
May 16, 2010
Puppy Love: A Stripper's Tail is a polished and fantastically odd showcase for the many talents of its writer and performer Erin Markey, from her powerhouse vocals to her unusual ability to twirl upside down on a stripper pole while playing a small piano. The show is a nontraditional, slightly absurd telling of a coming-of-age tale in which Markey, fresh out of University of Michigan, broke, living on Kraft singles, and unable to obtain her dream job at Chuck E. Cheese, finds work as a stripper at Deja Vu in Ypsilanti, Michigan. A bit unsteady initially about the ins and outs of life on platform heels, she is instantly drawn to veteran Sky, the most successful stripper in the joint, and while at first she seems unsure if she wants to be Sky or sleep with her, she quickly makes up her mind.
With the help of her backup storks (two performers who glide about the stage in beaks), a whimsical painted set by Steven Hammel that includes a large portable stripper pole, and a skilled band headed by composer Rich Campbell, Markey, who performs topless for nearly the whole show, focuses on the more irreverent details of life as a stripper. This includes a lengthy discussion about the hazards of shaving one's private regions bald, a ballad about taking her stripper name from a saint, and explaining in a baby voice while spinning on her pole with impressive dexterity, wearing a bib and diaper, that Deja Vu's clientele comes to find infantilized full-grown women.
Markey tells her story with boldly quirky, poetic, and often very funny dialogue that draws the audience into the show's odd world with ease and mischievous glee, but at a certain point the astute, bizarre quips and detached irony of the songs and dialogue began to feel more like an extended sketch and I wanted Markey to take things deeper into more strange twists or some kind of real vulnerability in her tale of puppy love, in which she and therefore we seem to have little invested. But more than any other element, this show is about its performer, and she does not disappoint.