Friday, July 14, 2017

A Burden Every Woman Shares

Are all men freaks? Discuss.

Before that became the evening's theme, I played chauffeur and picked Pru up from her manse in Church Hill, where we promptly drove to the Roosevelt for dinner before the heat wilted our enthusiasm.

When asked to pick our poison, we both chose Early Mountain Vineyards Rose (bartender T: "Because it's Summer!") while I regaled Pru and the barkeep with tales from my recent outing to King Family Winery.

Wine on wheels, what's not to like?

Dinner was putty in Summer's hands, with a mixed melon salad with blueberries, bacon and basil under a blanket of burrata, a yellow tomato gazpacho with lump crabmeat, mussels with grilled bread and a special of octopus salad with tomatoes and white anchovies.

The only way it could have been better is if we'd eaten it on a seaside patio and, as far as we knew, no one was offering us that tonight.

When we weren't stuffing our faces (or ruing the continuous stream of people allowing the air conditioning to escape by leaving the door open), Pru and I were waist-deep in girltalk, which is to say I was sharing the glorious improvements in my personal life while she was reminding me how long she's been waiting for me to get a clue.

"I never had your patience," she told me, stating the obvious. It's not a virtue I'm proud of.

We passed on dessert for more Rose before heading down the hill and back up it to the Basement's cool depths for a play about that magical place between heaven and hell: New Jersey.

That's right, tonight was a night for livin' on a prayer.

Taking seats in the second row, we were soon joined by a favorite actor and his companion for the evening and the conversation flowed like we were old friends. And perhaps all theater lovers are. Discussion immediately followed on who'd seen the original 1984 movie "The Toxic Avenger," on which tonight's musical was based.

Well, certainly not me, but naturally Pru (the film omnivore) had, although she couldn't recall a lot about it. As we discussed, that has a lot to do with her coming of age in the '80s and having been a bit too busy living life to make many mental notes.

Once we noticed that it was all '80s music playing, the actor's friend shared that she'd seen REM for $5 at the Metro back in 1982 (the best I could do was REM at the Mosque in '87), as well as the Ramones, although that ticket price escaped her now.

Don't sweat it, honey, a lot about the '80s escapes those of us who lived through those days.

I suppose it's possible that I could have enjoyed "The Toxic Avenger" more than I did, although it would probably have required someone rubbing my neck and shoulders throughout the entire play - including intermission -  to do so. It was that well executed and that much fun.

You're like Mother Theresa, if she was blind and hot.

Although I knew not a thing about the film, I was proud to say I'd seen several Troma films during last year's Troma series at Gallery 5, so I knew to expect the Troma tropes: nudity, horror, severed body parts, high camp and hilarity.

He's gonna jump my bones tomorrow at brunch.

The five-actor cast had the acting and singing skills of ten, whether it was Alexander Sapp as the lovesick environmentalist Melvin (or Toxie himself, with one eyeball perpetually dangling from its socket) or the incomparable Debra Waogoner as both mayor and Melvin's Mom, belting out songs to the rafters, oozing evil or baring her beautiful breasts.

When your face looks deranged, it's hard to get laid.

And don't get me started on the sheer range of Chris Hester as White Dude and William Anderson as Black Dude, who had more costume (and shoe!) changes than Cher. The two of them managed to convey menacing, coy, fey, simple-minded and just about every other type known to wo/man through a string of wig-wearing characters that left the audience in stitches.

So. Much. Cross-dressing.

Love isn't loud at all, it's soft and kind.

Rachel Rose Gilmour won everyone over when she arrived onstage as the stereotypical (and shallow) Jersey girl, complete with low-cut blouse, overly short skirt and a red glitter nail file. Oh, yes, and a probing cane because she was blind, always staring off into the middle distance, a feat unto itself.

If blind people can't love ugly people, who will?

The cast even tossed a bone to theater nerds in attendance when Toxie opened his mouth to roar and the sound didn't match his open mouth. "You ruined it, Joey Luck!" Toxie cried, referencing the much-awarded sound designer in the booth.

The roar that came up instead was laughter from every theater regular in the room.

The beauty of the play was that besides intestines, spleens and ripped off legs, "The Toxic Avenger" was a love story even if it did take place in New Jersey and, as with all good love stories, there were older, wiser women sharing their hard-earned lessons with young Sarah, the blind librarian.

It's been true since the dawn of time
From the Romans to the Greeks
Honey, face it, all mean are freaks, 
Sweetheart, face it, all men are freaks

Find kindness in your female heart
No need to act superior
Men need lots of therapy
Cause they were born inferior

That's wisdom for the ages right there. That it was sung by a mother, a blind girl and two cross-dressing men only proves its universality.

This wise woman is here to tell you that there's nothing wrong with finding kindness in your heart and offering a little therapy.

Let's just say what happens at brunch should stay at brunch.


  1. yes I suppose men are an easy target, perhaps though woman should glance in the mirror sometimes before stepping out the door.

    the Minutemen opened for REM at the Mosque ---not a bad show.


  2. The play was hilarious and mocking men was just one part of it. cw, you'd have laughed right along with me, I bet!
    Were you at the REM show, too?

  3. We should glance in the mirror sometimes before stepping out the door?
    Wow. Just...Wow. One song, one blip, moment, one JOKE in the show, and THIS is the takeaway for "C". Women, check yourselves.

  4. 'was there, a long with everyone else...standing in/on their seats...Reckoning, 7 Chinese brothers....can't remember if they played "don't go back to Rockville" or not ...probably kinda trashed anyway..


  5. always nice to hear feedback or what's a comment for?