By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Playwright Billy Aronson, short of original ideas, likes repeating the same tawdry bits, as if one more reference to a cold cucumber up the wazoo will be funnier than the same line uttered by the same character two minutes earlier. Long monologues substitute for real dialogue. All three recruits to the sex party dreamed up by husband David (Patrick Bynane) and wife Susan (Molly Lloyd) launch into streams of blather about why they would never agree to such a thing—that is, before they do.
Best at selling Aronson's underwritten fluff is New York actor Marshall York, whose gigantic head and spindly bod make him a walking Feiffer cartoon. Mugging, twitching, writhing on his knees, York, playing Peter, the "cool dad," delivers his five-minute soliloquy like a desperate man making his case to a firing squad. He's funny to watch; the material's dumb.
The rest of director Evan Mueller's cast is trapped in a mishmash of acting styles. Bynane and Lloyd, as the couple who decide offhandedly to try sex with other people instead of running errands, do that thing of staring too intently at each other when they talk. Real people don't do that, only bad actors do. Lloyd, a small woman who leads with her teeth, is less annoying in the second act, but not enough to matter.
Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage continues through August 8 at Theatre Too. Call 214-871-3300.
The First Day of School continues through July 25 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Call 817-923-3012.
Playing mommies looking for thrills, actresses Krista Scott and Desiree Fultz look embarrassed and awkward in the group-grope scenes (which are supposed to be funny but are anything but). Both are consigned to unflattering outfits by costumer Aaron Patrick Turner.
The second act finds the characters on the fourth anniversary of their annual five-way screw. Only now they're bored with the old moves. Enter the cuke.
Late in the play, a teenage couple (Sydney Baumgart, Alex Bush) bent on losing their virginity come home early to find the grown-ups in dishabille, a development that hints at a better play that might have been a hybrid of American Pie and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. As it is, First Day of School merely offers a two-hour lesson in how to eff up a sex farce.