Sunday, July 26, 2015

Drunken and Psychotic

While Benny Goodman played overhead, I sipped black smoke and ate drunken figs. Just another Saturday night in R-town.

Arriving first to meet my trio of dates at the new Julep's, the hostess complimented my Hawaiian print dress as she led me to the table. I thanked her, explaining that I'd bought it in 1995. "That's the year I was born!" she enthused.

I told her I'd had a boyfriend who hadn't cared for it because it was so, well, Hawaiian looking. "I'm Hawaiian and I think it's pretty. My boyfriend doesn't like this dress,"she said of a flowered orange print. "Men!" she said, rolling her eyes.

She's flippin' 20, so what could she possibly know of men?

My threesome arrived, like me, eager to see the renovation of the former Montaldo's space. I had it on good authority that the black and white floor, the Corinthian columns and several frames (now windows, perhaps once mirrors?) were original. One of our group recalled shopping there.

The funny part was, our server wasn't sure if it had been Montaldo's or Shield's Shoes first. Hell, even I knew that much (Montaldo's).

My Black Smoke cocktail, decidedly pinkish-purple in color, united Mezcal, agave syrup, creme de cassis, muddled blackberries and egg whites, a departure - my northern roots, perhaps - from the traditionalists at the table sipping mint juleps from silver Jefferson cups.

The music wasn't all Big Band, although it was all old and familiar (see: Bill Withers) as we tucked into appetizers. My country ham, drunken bourbon figs, bleu cheese and adult arugula (as opposed to the ubiquitous baby arugula) spurred a discussion of laundry tubs, as in what an ideal place they are to soak a Smithfield ham...or wash a dog.

Seeking a bottle of wine to accompany our main courses, a server in a matching yellow watch and tie suddenly appeared to grant our wish. When our server arrived, my friend told him a little bird had already taken care of it. "A big bird named Al, I'll bet," he responded. A big bird named Al with a yellow Swatch actually.

I followed my loopy figs with a kale country salad with bacon, cucumber, cornbread croutons and buttermilk dressing, a hearty plate of greens but not quite as impressive as my dates' entrees of a massive crabcake (so large we all tasted it), black grouper and fava beans ("You can't throw a line in the water in Bermuda without catching grouper," the ex-pat shared) and karbanara (their appalling spelling, who knows why?) of ham, linguine, peas and kale.

Someday I would like to see a job created whose sole responsibility is to ensure that no restaurant's menu contains spelling, capitalization, punctuation or other word-related errors. Either that or give diners a red pen to make corrections.

Finished eating before the others, I could tell everyone was filling up by the glassy looks in their eyes, but two of us were intrigued enough by the dessert menu listing of "rich dense chocolate hominy and fresh whipped cream" to order it. The hominy was a negligible component and I'd have preferred the chocolate to have been darker, but it's always a pleasure to have a few bites of chocolate after a meal.

Because our table had been on the other side of the ultra-suede curtain, I'd had no idea how crowded the place had gotten since our arrival until we left. Outside on the sidewalk, Grace Street was positively lively with people walking about.

Not us. We had an 8:00 curtain at Richmond Triangle Players, where sculpted guys in swim trunks hung leis around our necks as we walked in. That was one way to get us in the mood for "Psycho Beach Party" (original title: "Gidget Goes Psychotic"). Onstage, other bathing suit-clad actors tossed a beach ball and danced to surf music.

RTP has found the perfect summertime diversion with a campy play that takes classic '60s beach movies and skewers them with Hitchcock-worthy psychological thrillers focused on young tomboy Chicklet (played by a guy, natch) who wants to learn to surf from the coolest surfer dude, Kanaka.

Only thing is, Chicklet has multiple personalities and one of them is a dominatrix. Fortunately, Kanaka is a willing submissive. She's planning to take over the world, first Malibu (oh, no, where will Barbie live?) and then Sacramento (that's as far as she's gotten with her plan for world domination, apparently).

Thwarting all the fun was Dan Cimo as Chicklet's mother, who resembled a prettier Joan Crawford but with just as inadequate mothering skills. Make that domestic skills, too. Her veal scaloppine exploded out of the pressure cooker and she picks bits out of her coiffure and eats them as she lectures her daughter.

I think we can all agree that one should never miss an opportunity to skewer Miss Crawford.

Of course it was hysterical, lambasting all those Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello movies, with lines such as, "You have the sex drive of a marshmallow and you're pushing 16!"


Strobe lights appeared whenever there was a fight scene, which took place in hilarious slow motion.

When the lights came up at intermission after a particularly lurid description of what two people do when they're alone, one friend joked that they wrote the script while another indicated that it was a long way from anything they'd seen before.

And isn't that why we love Richmond Triangle Players? Well, that and offering $10 tickets on a Saturday night, let's be honest.

I like to maintain my cheap date status whenever I can. Doesn't mean I'm cheap.

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