By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
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.
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.
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.