Spotless Acting in Stage West's Clean House

Also: T3 hopes to clean up again with I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

 That single door also means no latecomers can sneak in once a show starts. Rather than turn anyone away at, say, 8:05 p.m. or even 8:15, the ushers at Theatre Too punish the audience who does arrive on time by making them wait until tardy ticketholders straggle in. On the night I attended, the production finally got running a full 20 minutes late. (Thank you so much, frizzy blonde in fur jacket, and I hope the older gent you were with realizes sooner than later that your chronic lateness is a symptom of narcissism.)

 All could be forgiven—stink, incarceration, late curtain—if I Love You were in any way lovable. But its crude, hoary sketches about blind dates, cheap dates, horny dates, ugly dates and every sort of date except those that grow on trees in warm climates, blend together like a long rerun of Love, American Style. Among the startlingly unoriginal observations: men don't ask for directions or call the day after, women like their G-spots tickled and weddings make everyone nervous.

 The songs come titled "A Stud and a Babe," "Why? 'Cause I'm a Guy," "Marriage Tango," "Shouldn't I Be Less in Love With You?" and "Single Man Drought." Each works itself into a lather underscoring tiresome gender stereotypes. To wit(less): "My hairline's receding/My ulcer is bleeding/My ego needs feeding/Why? 'Cause I'm a guy!"

Pam Dougherty (left) and Emily Scott Banks share a sisterhood of the traveling underpants moment in The Clean House at Stage West.
Buddy myers
Pam Dougherty (left) and Emily Scott Banks share a sisterhood of the traveling underpants moment in The Clean House at Stage West.

Details

The Clean House continues through February 24 at Stage West in Fort Worth. Call 817-784-9378.
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change continues through February 24 at Theatre Too (at Theatre Three). Call 214-871-3300.

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 Reeking of lowbrow pre-Steinem attitudes, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change actually is a product of the '90s. Now in its second decade off-Broadway, more than 150 offshoot productions are running internationally. New ones pop up all the time. Small, needy theaters on other planets in this and other galaxies are probably doing the show, but I'm not on their mailing lists. Yet.

 The T2 version, directed by Terry Dobson, features Doug Jackson, Amy Mills, Sonny Franks and Lindsey Holloway. Franks and Holloway are capable actors and pleasant to watch. The other two aren't.

 At the performance I went to, the audience of fidgety, middle-aged couples looked as if they were on their first Match.com dates. Some of them laughed at some of the dumb jokes. I laughed exactly once, at this line delivered by Holloway: "Condoms don't even GO with lasagna!" It was all about her delivery.

 By 9:30 p.m., when the intermission finally arrived—poor schnooks in the seats clapped wildly, thinking it was the end—all the silly palaver about dating and mating and marriage and fighting had clustered into a persistent, whining throb behind my left eyeball. I bailed, bolting out that lone exit and taking the long flight of stairs up from purgatory two at a time. "I told you so," scolded Dame Judi. Bitch is never wrong.

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