2nd Story’s ‘Die, Mommie, Die’ is naughty, campy & funny
“Die, Mommie, Die!” is the play for you.by Don Fowler, Warwick Beacon
Send the kids off to summer camp and get over to Ed Shea’s 2nd Story Theatre for about the campiest play we’ve seen around here in some time.
Shea hints that there is a little Moliere in Charles Busch’s campy satire on Hollywood aging stars and family relationships. Shea directs this madness, choosing to have his actors play their roles in outrageous style with broad, sweeping gestures, loud outbursts and over-the-top performances.
This R-rated satirical comedy centers on Angela Arden, a fading star who is married to an obnoxious movie mogul and has two weird children. Her plan is to murder her husband and run off with her lover (Wayne Kneeland).
Angela is played by female impersonator Payton St. James, a tall man who towers over the rest of the cast, stealing every scene he is in. And is he/she gorgeous in the glamorous attire that designer Ron Cesario has created for him/her.
Shea keeps the action at a fast pace (two hours including a brief intermission), using the same Trevor Elliott set as “I Hate Hamlet,” which is being done in repertory.
The first act ends with Angela doing away with her husband, with the second act opening after the funeral. The children are suspicious, as the action turns zany, with many twists and turns to keep you on your toes until the outrageous ending.
While Moliere may be considered risqué, Busch is downright R-rated, so be warned.
The cast works well together. Margaret Melozzi plays the maid, a role usually delegated to a second string actor. But not this maid, who figures heavily in the plot.
Patrick Mark Saunders and Valerie Westgate play the adult children, Lance and Edith. Edith is infatuated with her out-of-control father and hates her mother, while Lance is struggling with his sexual identity and hates his father.
Kneeland’s Tony Parker is the only character who seems to be in control of his wits, and in the end he has a surprise for us.
F. William Oakes, who has played many over-the-top characters in the past, will make you love to hate him, almost waiting for him to be killed.
But wait. The play is titled “Die, Mommie, Die!,” so there must be more zaniness to come.
If you like campiness and naughtiness, “Die, Mommie, Die!” is the play for you.
Performed in 2nd Story’s upstairs theatre in repertory with “I Hate Hamlet” through August 28.
If you haven’t caught “Venus in Furs” in the downstairs theatre, put it on your calendar. Shea has given us a triple play this summer.