Warm hearts (and underwear)
Great script, dynamic cast and high weirdness push Blue Room’s fun production of Wintertime over the top
If you have a strong intuition that you would not be entranced by the sight of a corpulent bald man gyrating in a skimpy red camisole accessorized with a blue feather boa while performing a hoochy-coochy dance for the gay lover of a married man, this play may not be for you.
If you are pretty sure you would not appreciate the intrusion of a superfluous character entering a dramatic scene in non sequitur fashion through a trap door in the center of the stage, even if said intruder turns out to be a spike-heeled coquette with flowing auburn hair, deliciously pouty lips, charmingly over-sized eyes and a cute little French accent, you may prefer to stay home and watch a rerun of The Andy Griffith Show.
And if it’s safe to assume that you would find it dramatically offensive for a play to abandon its dewy-eyed dénouement so its cast can dissipate itself in frenzied salsa dancing while clad in tie-dyed underwear, then for the sake of all that is sacred, sane and sensible, stay away from this play.
The rest of you: Scrape your change together in a heap and use it to buy a ticket to the latest Blue Room production, Wintertime.
Brilliantly scripted by Charles L. Mee, Wintertime tells the convoluted love story of three related couples who unintentionally convene at a mountain cabin, each with the intention of getting away from it all so they can indulge or intensify their various romantic relationships.
First to arrive are Jonathan (Joel Montgomery) and Ariel (Hannah Knight), a perfectly whitebread young couple characterized by Jonathan’s jealous adoration and Ariel’s effusively giddy gabbling about the wonderfulness of love and loveliness and loving … and so on.
Just as Ariel and Jonathan are getting cozy, who should wander in from the wings but his bathrobe-clad mother, Maria (Gail Beterbide), and her soliloquizing French-accented lover, Francois (Don Eggert)? And just as these two couples are messily reconciling themselves to each other’s presence, who should appear but Maria’s estranged husband, Frank (Rob Wilson), and his gay lover, Edmund (Brian Miner).
That should be plenty of people to create comedic discord for a couple of hours, you might assume. But that’s only because you haven’t yet met the dysfunctional ice-fishing lesbian couple from down the road, Bertha (Michele Bechard) and Hilda (Jocelyn Stringer), or the philosophy and theology spouting deliveryman, Bob (a crowd-pleasing DNA), who wants to drop off a compost maker. Or the aforementioned trapdoor-springing coquette, Jaqueline (Jacqueline Adams). Now you’ve got a full house.
Mee’s script gives each character generous stage time and plenty of lines, and director Paul Stout has (again) assembled and aligned a top-notch cast to bring the script to occasionally riotous life. But riotous life is accented with many changes of stage dynamic, and the most dynamic character is Francois, a corpulent hedonist with a philosopher’s heart of gold, a silver tongue and, apparently, a magnetic aura of attraction that wins over nearly all of his cabin mates.
Francois’ burlesque of burlesque is staged to hilariously poignant perfection, accented effectively by Jeremy Votava’s lighting and Joe Hilsee’s sound design. And the rest of the play’s multi-faceted action fits comfortably in David Beasley’s sparse set, which is painted with cool blue mountain panoramas and dotted with minidrifts of artificial snow.
Trust me, the setting may be cold, but the overall affect is heartwarming. If, that is, your heart can be warmed by a bunch of kooks salsa dancing in tie-dyed underwear.