Richard, David, John, and I saw this off Broadway play at the Theater for a New City on 4/9.  Charles Busch is an American original: he's a playwright who has made his career writing plays that feature him as the leading lady.  Notable titles from his oeuvre:

 

*Vampire Lesbians of Sodom*

*Psycho Beach Party*

*Red Moon on Sunset*

*Die, Mommie, Die!*

*The Divine Sister*

 

The four of us see everything he does.  It's always good, silly fun.  This play was a delight: not as brilliant as *Die, Mommie, Die!* or *The Divine Sister*, but certainly a hell of a lot better than *The Third Story* or *Olive and the Bitter Herbs*.

 

I noticed at this show that Busch plays the audience like a virtuoso - - he crafts the play in a way that makes the audience an active participant.  For example: the show opens with Caesar and Marc Antony discussing Cleopatra.  Ten minutes later someone comes onstage with a rug.  The unrolls the rug and out pops Busch in his Cleopatra getup.  And we, the audience, practically gave him a standing ovation!  Just for rolling out of a rug.  He delivered the moment with all the giddy girlishness of a teenage Egyptian princess (as played by a sixty-something New York male actor).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He did a lot of Mae West in this show, which was an amusing surprise.  I was expecting Liz Taylor.  And I did get a bit of Liz, but not what I expected: at one point, Cleopatra says to Antony, "I'm loud and I'm vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody's got to, but I am not a monster!"  Which is from *Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?*.  That Charles Busch, he keeps you on your toes.

 

A few other delightful tidbits: one scene featured Cleo's three servants bickering with each other for a few minutes.  The scene ended with one of them saying, "Why do we go on with this pointless prattle?  You'd think we were killing time so someone could do a costume change!"  And the center doors opened and there was Miss Cleo in a new red wig and chiffon gown.  Hilarious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of wiglets, there was a funny recurring bit in the show.  The first time, Cleo and her entourage were fleeing town - -

 

CHARMIAN: Shall I pack the wiglets?

CLEOPATRA: Naa, we can buy new hair in Memphis.

 

The second time:

 

CHARMIAN: Shall I pack the wiglets?

CLEOPATRA: Naa, we can buy new hair in Alexandria.

 

And the last time was the very end of the show.  Cleopatra has pressed the asp to her (ahem) breast, and the final two lines of the show:

 

CHARMIAN: [holding back tears] Shall I pack the wiglets?

CLEOPATRA: [dying with grandeur]  Yes...pack the wiglets...

 

I can't remember ever being at a performance where an actor made a curtain speech, that sort of thing seems to have gone out of style in the 60s.  Busch said what a treat it was to be back at this little theater, and what a blast it was doing a show just for fun.  He capped it off by saying, "This isn't a workshop, this is IT!"

 

And, Miss Busch, we couldn't ask for more.

LOVE, Chris

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