nytheatre.com review by Sean Michael O'Donnell
August 17, 2007
Roxy Font has an identity crisis. The story of a girl born in a trailer park with a superfluous third foot, Roxy Font follows the misadventures of the title character from her humble beginnings in the home of her gun-toting Aunt Boots to her scandalous life abroad as a murderous three-footed prostitute. Playwright Liza Lentini breaks with theatrical conventions to craft a schizophrenic mishmash of styles and genres—at once her play is an absurd comedy populated by outrageous fetishists, a social satire about the pitfalls of modern celebrity, and a poignant drama that traces one woman's journey through a life less ordinary. That Roxy Font also attempts to be an old-fashioned love story, a modern folk tale, and a risqué sex farce only further adds to the unraveling chaos.
Nevertheless Roxy Font does offer a few glimmers of magic. At the heart of the play is the love story between Roxy and her best friend, the one-footed Rascal. Roxy and Rascal swing through their childhoods dreaming of one day becoming famous teen idols. Lentini perfectly captures the innocence of childhood and first love, but her story quickly devolves when Rascal abandons Roxy and the trailer park to become a world-renowned singing sensation. Roxy tries to find Rascal but ends up becoming a stripper. When Roxy murders a client, she is quickly catapulted into the realm of superstardom as everybody wants a piece of the murderous three-footed prostitute. Unfortunately the playwright offers no new insights into the dark side of celebrity, instead choosing to rehash the same tired clichés of excess and loneliness.
Katherine Kovner's direction further muddies the already disjointed plot. And while the limited production space at the Cherry Lane certainly offers a challenge in respect to staging, Kovner's choice to crowd the stage with actors and props proves an awkward choice. The ill-conceived cartoon violence coupled with the poorly executed gunshot effects (a major component of the production) further distract from the story.
Where the play succeeds is in its outstanding ensemble cast. Pepper Binkley imbues Roxy with just the right blend of childish abandon and sadness. She makes Roxy a heroine worth investing in even when the script suggests otherwise. Roger Lirtsman charms as Rascal, and his downward spiral into celebrity oblivion, while cliché, is thoughtful. Liz Thompson delivers genuine laughs as the slightly off-kilter Aunt Boots while the exceptionally talented Tim McGeever (playing half-a-dozen characters, most notably the narrator) keeps the show moving with his infectious energy. But the standout is Shalita Grant as Roxy's friend Quaila. Grant finds depth in even the slightest of moments, radiating both joy and sadness in a single breath.