Nicky Goes Goth
nytheatre.com review by Robin Reed
August 15, 2004
Pop culture freaks me out just a little bit. The concept of “celebrity” and our country’s voyeuristic obsession with living vicariously through the sell-your-soul-to-the-devil glamour of those whose faces slather the cover of magazines and TV makes me wonder where we’ve come to as a society. Yet somehow, whether you watch TV and read the Enquirer or not, you can hardly get around these days without inadvertently knowing a little bit about whether or not Ashley and Mary Kate had dinner, who Britney married and for how long, or that Paris Hilton made a movie. Do we need a piece of theater about the fodder with which we are inundated daily? I didn’t really think so, but…
Sweet holy mother of all things gay is this show funny!
And I’m not just talking funny "ha ha." Get ready for full-on edge-of-your-seat belly laughs! But be careful: the wit and priceless one-liners fly at you so rapid-fire that if you chortle too loud you just might miss one.
We are led through the world Nicky Hilton’s Goth transformation by Aaron (the adorable “tour guide/cosmetic magician” who came out to his parents over Instant Messenger—ha!) who is in sick twisted obsessive love with Paris Hilton. Aaron shows his love and affection by bronzing her until she looks like an overgrown Oompa-Loompa. Billy Eichner is perfect as Aaron—picture Jack from Will and Grace but with a firmer grasp on the present moment. Julie Lake gives Paris a genius dimwitted sensibility, and turns her from bitchy to saccharine-sweet on a dime. Whenever sister Nicky, played with just enough pout by Zoe Kazan, comes anywhere near to having a deep thought, real feeling, or impulse to not wear a halter top (hysterical!), Paris throws her to the ground and force-feeds her Doritos. And Shithead, the sniveling teen-angst-ridden Goth Guy, is played by the very funny (and cute in black lipstick) Michael Nathanson.
Also fantastic are Will Rogers and Derek Miller as Boomer and Christian a pair of never-quite-got-over-how-cool-we-were-in-boarding-school dudes, and Anita Wlody as Shithead’s mom (who refuses to call her boy “Shithead”). But perhaps the most genius stroke of casting is in the role of the Dad, played by Heath Meriwether, the real-life father of the playwright. He is used sparingly and stunningly as Shithead’s drifting and absent father.
Playwright Elizabeth Meriwether does an excellent job of creating bold and absurd caricatures with just enough gumption to keep the whole piece very sharp, and director Shira Milikowsky keeps it all moving rapid-fire. It is the work of a fine director when things that shouldn’t work, i.e., screaming temper tantrums, hit just the right mark.
Hopefully the real Hilton sisters will grace FringeNYC and catch this piece. They might do well to take notes on where their senses of humor could use a lift.