Bush League

Uptown Players shoot low with Down South, a wicked rewind to sexual mores of the 1960s

All of this tawdry nonsense is choreographed by Uptown director Andi Allen to mimic precisely the moves of those old TV characters. Bob cocks his head at his wife whenever he finishes a sentence. Jennifer never stops grinning vacantly, even as she declares, "I cooked, I cleaned, I climaxed." Many, many, many times, dialogue ends, there's a pause and all the characters shrug into one of those breathy Carol Brady sighs.

Yes, this sort of stuff, filtered through the orally fixated gay male perspective, can be amusing. You find yourself laughing mindlessly the way you laugh at the idiotic reruns of the second-rate shows it mocks. But too often the jokes in Down South go south. Field counts on the surefire gimmick of our shared TV history to disguise his lack of plot, and while all the dirty talk may be shockingly funny the first time it comes popping out of the mouths of these saccharine so-and-so's, it's not the 10th or 20th time. Both acts end with superfluous, badly written punch-line scenes. Even good performances by the Uptown cast, notably Serber's as the twinkly Jennifer and Williams' as the effeminate Stephen Stevens, can't rescue a script that sinks faster than the S.S. Minnow.

Technically the production has an even longer punch list of errant details. No director should allow an actor to chew gum onstage. In this play Marisa Diotalevi gnashes a jawful while she speaks, eats, drinks and smokes. From the audience perspective, it's hideous to watch the white goo slip around Diotalevi's wide-open gob. She could double the pleasure of her performance by eschewing the wad.

Marisa Diotalevi and Cara Statham Serber spoof TV couples such as the Petries, Stones and Cleavers in Down South.
Cooper Smith
Marisa Diotalevi and Cara Statham Serber spoof TV couples such as the Petries, Stones and Cleavers in Down South.


continues through August 31 at the Trinity River Arts Center.
Call 214-219-2718.

Philip Lowman's wigs for the women are disasters. Serber's wig, a brunette Jackie Kennedy flip, sits askew on her head and looks like it was run over by My Mother the Car. Worman's Sue Stevens hairpiece, a disheveled platinum Dolly Parton horror, is almost larger than the actress under it. Diotalevi's red cascade resembles wet orangutan fur.

Costume designers Suzi Shankle and Bill Bullard knew the basic period looks they were going for--Ethel Mertz's rickrack-trimmed hausfrau dresses and Donna Reed's wasp-waists--but they blew it on the wrong footwear with every single outfit. No right-thinking '60s TV housewife would ever have worn grass-green satin pumps with a butter-yellow chiffon cocktail dress.

Mr. Ed had better shoes.

Uptown Players' 2004 season begins in February with The Life, the Cy Coleman/Ira Gasman musical about Times Square street life in the 1980s. The show focuses on six good-hearted characters sharing stories and dreams while trapped together in unusual circumstances. In April comes Charles Busch's comedic melodrama Die, Mommy, Die!, evoking the horrors of '60s films featuring washed-up movie stars like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner. Terrence McNally's Tony-winning dramedy Love! Valour! Compassion! gets another go-round next summer at Uptown, followed by the musical The Wild Party next fall. This unusual show was adapted by writer-composer Andrew Lippa from a book-length poem written in and about the Roaring '20s. Season tickets for Uptown Players productions can be ordered online at www.uptownplayers.org or by calling 214-219-2718.

Pico de Gallo, the spicy sketch comedy show at Oak Cliff's Ice House Cultural Center, has turned into a hot ticket. With sold-out houses packing the small performance space, the Martice Enterprises troupe is adding four more performances. The show is up through August 30, will be dark the week of August 31, then returns September 12, 13, 19 and 20. Call 214-243-2348.

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