Conceived in skin
The fact that "Naked Girls Drinking" isn't about naked girls is as much of a surprise to the characters themselves as to anyone who shows up at this hilarious play-about-a-play expecting a smutty stripfest.
By JOSHUA TANZER
(Originally reviewed at the New York Fringe Festival in August 2002.)
If you think "Naked Girls Drinking" is about girls and they're naked and they're drinking well, friend, you have a lot to learn about how plays get their names. But at least you're in the same boat as the "producers" of the play by that name within a play by that name, who are shocked to read the script and discover a sensitive drama of women who are only metaphorically naked.
"This is 'Naked Girls Drinking'!" producer Ray bellows. "The whole naked thing? It's not here!"
|NAKED GIRLS DRINKING|
|Company: Bon Bock.|
Written by: Gareth Smith, Michael Nathanson.
Directed by: Morgan Baker.
Cast: Robin Dawn Arocha, Morgan Baker, Jeanine Bartel, Marshall Correro, Robert J. D'Amato, Alex Fry, Sadie Jones, Christopher Robinson, Sarah Sims, Smitty, Jennifer Williams.
Related links: Official site
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HA! Comedy Fest, Jan. 9 - Feb. 9, 2003
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"It's okay. We're going to fix this," says producer Tony, who's got an idea. "The whole thing will be performed in the nude."
"No, no," says Ray, " 'cause you still got all this Oprah shit in there."
This is what happens, evidently, when you pour your soul into a dramatic work and then get your co-workers and drinking buddies from the Sears sales floor to put up the money for it. And that's the premise of the terribly funny real play "Naked Girls Drinking" about the making of the doomed fictional play "Naked Girls Drinking."
Act one takes place in a bar in New Brunswick, New Jersey, (the almost-universal starting point for plays by the Bon Bock company) where playwright and ex-bartender Jack (Alex Fry) is regaling his money men with wild stories of the crazy chicks he served, dated and 86'd during his bartending days in that very establishment. One of those women, Dori (Robin Dawn Arocha), becomes the subject of the play Jack has written, and as the drinking buddies punctuate his lines with, "Hey, you should put this in your play," the show becomes a dizzying feat of self-reference a play that's about the making of itself. We also get a terrific ensemble exploration of what appliance salesmen talk about over beers after work, which, trust me, is sharply written and nonstop funny.
Acts two and three shift to New York for the making of the play itself, from its botched auditions to its botched premiere. There are a few lulls and contrived sitcom-y plot developments in this section, like the one where a drug dealer comes in and messes up the auditions. But the show never slows down for long there's always an uproarious punch line around the corner. Even the very last scene when the now-deranged playwright and the craven producers have a final showdown that at first looks like predictable melodrama is broken up by a sudden, inspired plot twist and a perfect closing line.
In the bar scene, one of the characters claims that "Naked Girls Drinking" can't miss because it's got everything men look for naked girls and drinking. That's how it is with Gareth Smith and Michael Nathanson's script it's got everything, minus the naked girls. It has barroom comedy, theater in-jokes, passion, violence, plot twists and smarts. The actors in the main roles are excellent and special mention must be made of Robert J. D'Amato as the producer Ray, whose parody of middle-aged machismo is a hoot and who gets a big laugh just for entering the stage before the start of act two, a tribute to how well he's set his character up in act one.
|AUGUST 22, 2002|
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