Off Broadway Reviews
The Jewels of the Forbidden Skates
Got a hankering for some old-fashioned camp? Well, Jennifer Miller's Cracked Ice or Jewels of the Forbidden Skates is bringing camp back a-la variety show to satiate your desire. Borrowing from current events, Cracked Ice uses a ponzi scheme as a springboard into madness, mayhem and hijinks in an old meets new presentation that may inspire both chuckles and head-scratching, but never inspires a yawn.
Statua (Carlton Cyrus Ward), the elegant half of the fabulous juggling duo The Liberty Sisters, can't seem to keep her multiple wig and multiple wardrobe-wearing sister Sybil (Jennifer Miller) out of trouble. The pair are all set to begin an ice-skating act/tour when Sybil gets hoodwinked by a ponzi scheme and loses all their money. From there, the two embark on a mad caper to catch the criminal and dish out a punishment that fits the crime. Along the way, fellow performers Flo (Salley May), Ashley (Ashley Brockington), The Sons (The Wau Wau Sisters), Alexandra Penney (Lee Houck) and Bernadette (Rae C. Wright) among others get entangled in the mystery. And there's plenty to be caught up in.
While searching for their Bernie Madoff, the sisters weave in and out of political commentary and jokes (How many jews does it take to screw in a light bulb....?), pop culture revelations (Hugh Jackman is gay, gasp!), and glittery burlesque performances just to name a few on Jonathan Berger's psychedelic, color-heavy set. Charlotte Lily Gaspard's glam-bam, thank you ma'am costumes (skate "hats" are a marvel) accentuate the best features of the dancers' bodies and are appropriate for the show's outlandish characters, while Kenny Mellman' lone piano playing in the background adds a nice, soft juxtaposition.
Although Cracked Ice is a smorgasboard for your eyes and your ears, there is too much going on. It may be a variety show, but adding a ponzi scheme storyline and various subplots forces the audience to want to relate things and events that are unrelatable. We want to connect characters that look like escapees from a carnival - there's a bearded lady and, on the night I attended, a charming accordion player singing a ditty (surprise guests can be expected each performance) - to the lonely DJ's musings, but we can't. We want to digest the silent, peculiar dance that gives the already fit Brockington a cardio workout, but it's difficult when a plot has been introduced. Cracked Ice is a vaudeville show with a premise where there shouldn't be one, even though Miller's sharp direction ropes in all the action.
Still, if you think camp returning to the East Village is a good thing and you want to see some good juggling, hear some good music and laugh at a few off-kilter jokes, you'll be safe with Cracked Ice.
Cracked Ice or The Jewels of the Forbidden Skates