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I Love Paris

Theatre Review by Warren Hoffman

Paris Hilton is a "skanky bitch." Actually, everyone seems to be a "skanky bitch" according to Paris Hilton, the blond bimbo of TV's Simple Life. Now before attacking me for foul language or harsh judgments, those aren't my words, but the words of Paris Hilton herself, well, at least as imagined by Doug Field in his mindless and vacant new play I Love Paris. "Skanky bitch" is invoked so many times in Field's play that if I had a dollar for every mention of this phrase I'd be a . . . um. . . . rich "skanky bitch." And if you're finding this joke old, imagine it for fifty minutes.

Whether you think this play is funny or not will depend on whether you find Paris Hilton and her crass mouth worthy of derision. The short play has Paris Hilton (Kevin Shinick) sitting in a dressing room while waiting to audition to be a co-host on the daytime show The View. Hilton, talking to an imaginary audience, rambles on about such disparate topics as Ashton Kutcher, terrorism, and the Treaty of Versailles. There's no logic to her verbal diarrhea, just ditzy airheadedness as she talks about her sex life and drops more malapropisms than George W. Bush. Flicking through a stack of fashion and women's magazines from Vogue to Cosmopolitan, Hilton "disses" everyone from Anne Heche to Christina Aguilera, tossing the magazines about her in a fit of bored disgust and disdain.

Hilton, oddly enough, is played by a man in this production, and a man not in drag. Kevin Shinick (attired in fairly unisex clothing) is a great actor with superb comic timing who knows how to use his eyes to perfectly hit home a punch line. Yet, even Shinick's performance (in what could be termed I Am My Own Skanky Bitch) can't save this piece. To be honest, Shinick didn't really remind me of Hilton. As a matter of fact, for all of the prattle that "Hilton" spouts, Field's Hilton seems disconcertingly too articulate. Director Timothy Haskell keeps the piece moving and rarely has Shinick standing still for more than thirty seconds, which helps take the edge off of some of the show's tedium.

In playwright Doug Field's defense, the play, as written, isn't bad, and it does a good job of capturing the stupidity and shallowness of Hilton. As a character study of a dumb bimbo, it's good writing. But that said, does anyone really care that much about Hilton? Though this might have been funny as a five-minute skit on Saturday Night Live, fifty minutes gets old. Hasn't Paris Hilton already had her (more than) fifteen minutes of fame? Maybe not. On the night I attended, the audience ate up the play's silliness, so Hilton clearly has her fans.

The running gag of I Love Paris has Paris Hilton continually hunting for almonds to quell her pangs of hunger. She has read that Christina Aguilera keeps her weight down by eating twelve almonds three times a day and so Hilton scavenges the dressing room like a squirrel looking for precious nuts. Despite Hilton's ability to find nuts in the most unusual of places, this play left me hungry for something more substantial. Hopefully, Field, Haskell and Shinick will soon work on a play worthy of their talents instead of mindless fluff that is as empty as the inside of Paris Hilton's head.

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I Love Paris
Through August 30
Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 East 24th Street at Park Avenue South
Schedule and Tickets: 212.868.4444