Thursday, November 5, 2009

Puppies and Panties and Pies, Oh My!

by Rob Callahan

Love Is Blind... And Furry is what transpires when an inept and ulteriorly motivated sex therapist gathers his patients together in a hotel for an impromptu group session. Written and directed by Minneapolis stage veteran, Jason Ballweber, the play layers slapstick humor over abounding absurdity and rapid fire repartee as it accounts the antics of an ensemble cast of misfits coming to terms with their sexual deviancy. Often delivered in a lewd manner through an abundance of gags and one-liners, a more subtle plot line soon reveals itself, like a narrative burlesque act uncovering compassionate tales of love and loneliness, or the chewy center of a Tootsie Pop (read: sex jokes).

As the story unfolds, we follow Dr. Stevens, the therapist haphazardly overseeing the interactions of his five patients as they struggle to break free from the bonds of their overpowering fetishes. He appears first as a mere observer, a hapless everyman surrounded by oddities, but soon begins a steep descent into Basil Fawlty-esque outbursts and fits of frustration as his polished veneer weathers away, eroded by the ragtag bunch he's surrounded by. Enter Tina, a spirited young woman who is so turned on by math that she can only enjoy cunnilingus if the act includes a recitation of the Pythagorean theorem. She's joined by Gi, a sleazy, mustached, French-speaking, live-action caricature of Disco Stu, who is obsessed with panties. Peter – whose self confidence emerges only when he is ensconced in a shaggy dog costume – joins the pack along with Gary – a character only aroused by sitting on pies – and Karen, who hides her own fetish behind a nymphomania facade. Rounding off the ensemble cast, Bridgette from Room Service, brings another normative pretense to the group.

The script invokes a sense of humor that lies somewhere between Seth Mcfarlane and Benny Hill – one is almost compelled to hum Yakkity Sax at points – while keeping a Looney Tunes pace and giving up gags reminiscent of the Marx Brothers and Stooges. The actors are outrageous and shameless – mannerisms needed to portray such subject matter faithfully – but are also careful not to cross too far into the realm of creepy and disturbing, unless the story calls for it. Walking the fine line between poignant and repugnant with equal blends of smart satire and toilet humor is what has made entertainment like Family Guy so successful. This show will appeal to a universal crowd for a broad range of reasons, however, it isn't for everyone. In terms of age-appropriateness, it gets a firm R rating for language and gratuitous amounts of underpants displays. As far as creativity-appropriateness, it stands as a production that will simultaneously elevate and accost the vanilla sensibilities of a more mainstream audience.

Love Is Blind... And Furry showcases the collective established talents of Jon Cole, Ryan Lear, Alisa Mattson, Courtney McLean, Dan Peltzman, Mark Rehani who are joined by relative newcomer Madelyne Riley to complete the lineup. Admission is $15 ($10 for students and those donning a Fringe button) and plays at the Bedlam Theater Nov 5th through 8th and Nov 12th through 14th at 7:30pm. Show length is one hour.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I really want to talk about the funny jokes, but the surprise is half the fun!