Off Broadway Reviews
Bridezilla Strikes Back
Go-Go Kitty, GO!
You'll be hard-pressed to have more fun at a Fringe Festival show this year than at Go-Go Kitty, GO!, a wildly satirical romp through the sexploitation film genre. It's really too bad that legendary moviemaker Russ Meyer - whose wholesome cinematic classics include Vixen! and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - didn't survive to see this play by Erin Quinn Purcell and Greg Jackson (with additional material by Brian Hyland). He probably would have loved it - not just for the rampant proliferation of go-go boots, short shorts, and blouse ripping, but for the beating hearts and laughing lungs beneath those blouses.
Go-Go Kitty, GO! is done with such consummate style and (bad) taste that even stating too many story specifics seems like spoiling half the fun. In brief: Two go-go kitties (Purcell and Kim Ders) try to learn the truth behind the fiery death of a transvestite coworker and get sucked into a web of political intrigue that stretches to the highest levels of the government. They're pursued across the country as they try to unravel the mysteries surrounding candidate Thomas Patrick McDonald (Vin Knight), and get into their fair share of motorcycle chases, bar fights, and nights of steamy loving before they're through.
Samuel Buggeln's direction is flawless; he keeps spirits so high and the laughs so loud, it often seems as if the Lucille Lortel Theatre won't survive the onslaught. Scenic designer Lee Savage has developed some amazing two-dimensional scenery that's more comically effective than much currently on Broadway; among other things, you haven't lived until you've seen a full motorcycle chase staged with cardboard bikes. Mark Huang's sound plot is the most ruthlessly detailed of any show this year, Fringe or otherwise: Slaps, explosions, and a bevy of other aural effects are so precisely timed that it's hard to believe they're not real.
Ders makes the strongest impression with her hard-bitten, hard-biting kitty, but the company is completely in sync and there are no weak links to be found. For the picky, there's some sagging in the storyline, which takes perhaps seven minutes too long to reach its final destination, but the rest of the show is a firm, bouncy delight. With only a few days left before the Fringe Festival ends, what should you do about Go-Go Kitty, GO!? Go!
Go-Go Kitty, GO!
Bridezilla Strikes Back!
For Cynthia Silver, reality bites. Or at least reality television bites. She learned this the hard way when what she'd hoped would be her fast track to fame instead bestowed upon her the kind of notoriety usually reserved for people like Susan Hawk and Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. (If you don't know who they are, consider yourself lucky.) But she's done her reality TV tormenters one better and is getting back at them onstage in her one-woman show at the Fringe Festival, Bridezilla Strikes Back!
One can easily see how Silver (who wrote the show with Kenny Finkle) was seduced into the reality TV trap: She's appealing and likeable, but somehow not the big, enthusiastic presence one associates with successful actors of great or even more moderate fame. It makes sense that she would see a wedding documentary series entitled Manhattan Brides as the ideal way to jump start her stalled theatre career. But the initially innocent documentary became for her and her fiancé Matt a nightmare played out on national television: When it finally aired on Fox as Bridezillas, it reduced her from the warm, funny woman that originally charmed the producers into a font of nasty, impatient neuroticism.
As she's directed by Paul Urcioli, Silver conveys her transition from bride to monster deftly and brightly, making it easy to see at each step along the way how she let things spiral out of control. And her depiction of the episode that finally aired, complete with quick cuts and repetition of scenes, is eerily accurate and quite funny in the way it sends up tried and tired TV formulas. The lights (Eric Southern) and sound design (Joshua Dickens) help clearly define Silver's interior and exterior worlds in a way that Silver's general portrayals of the story's other characters can't always accomplish.
Yet even in this minimalist mounting, undoubtedly presaging a full production, Bridezilla Strikes Back! is polished to a blinding shine, often feeling too slick to allow you to fully accept Silver's self-reflective statements about discovering herself and learning what's really important in life. One can certainly sympathize with her travails, but while her story serves as a worthwhile lesson for those who seek the spotlight by any means necessary, you also get a very strong impression that Silver's not yet ready to relinquish it.
Bridezilla Strikes Back!