Written by Erasmus Fenn
Directed by Joe Brancato
Carrying on the aesthetic forged by Charles Ludlam and The Ridiculous Theater Company, playwright Erasmus Fenn has concocted a colorful, if flawed, vehicle for Ridiculous veteran Everett Quinton. A comical mash-up of THE GLASS MENAGERIE, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, I Love Lucy, Psycho and other cult favorites, DROP DEAD PERFECT is rarely more than clever, but it does give Quinton and company plenty chew on.
Wealthy Idris Seabright (Everett Quinton) lives in an opulent home in the Florida Keys with her disabled ward Vivien (Jason Edward Cook). A formidable grand dame of the Crawford-Davis mould, Idris is used to getting her way. This doesn’t sit well Vivien, who is eager to break away. Believing there’s a market for her phallic-looking abstract sculptures, she seeks to start a new life in New York. Conniving lawyer Phineas Fenn (Timothy C. Goodwin), has his own reasons for keeping Vivien pinned to the Seabright house. He’s hoping she’ll accept his proposal of marriage, though she has shown no romantic interest in him thus far. Into this tense atmosphere sneaks Ricardo (Jason Cruz), a handsome but shady Cuban seducer who soon has everyone staggering around in an erotic stupor. Ricardo and Idris share a dark secret pertaining to the Seabright family’s troubled past, and as hidden truths emerge, the stakes grow higher. Vivien has one last chance to escape before Idris’s murderous need for control becomes a raging conflagration that threatens to destroy everything it path.
Despite the fact that today’s audiences have seen this type of satire before, there are enough strong elements here to potentially craft a good show. Under Joe Brancato’s direction, the actors find the right balance between caricature and sincerity. James J. Fenton’s scenic design and Charlotte Palmer-Lane’s costumes evoke the opulence of vintage Hollywood drama. There are dance numbers that showcase Cruz and Cook’s remarkable dexterity. Ultimately, though, the show just isn’t tight enough. It’s essentially a one act concept, and over the course of 90 minutes, maintaining the right campy tone proves challenging. The comedic beats, when they come, land effectively, but there is too much stage time devoted to the play’s rather convoluted plot. Fenn (or whoever’s behind the pseudonym), needs to cut away the fat and keep the jokes coming at a faster clip.
DROP DEAD PERFECT continues through Oct 24, 2015 at Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 W 46th St (at 9th Avenue), New York, NY 10036 For tickets call: (845) 786-2873