Gerald van Wilgen
SHOW: The Safe Word is Begonia
GROUP: B. Someday Productions
ATTENDED: Sat., Sept. 14, 9 p.m., Walking Fish Theatre
CLOSES: Sat., Sept. 21
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "The young and innocent Dolly is shocked to find a graphic S&M 'pulp' novel in her fiancés brief case… She teams up with a feisty librarian to discover a world she never knew existed."
WE THINK: Latch on to Michelle Pauls’ zany Patsy (soon to become the shrieking, hilarious dominatrix Jezebel); she’ll take you where you need to go. A playful Mephistopheles to Mauri Walton’s wide eyed Dolly, Patsy is the young woman’s temptress into the seedy underworld of bondage and discipline (hold the sadism and masochism, it doesn’t get that far) and the audience’s best entrée into the play. The opening dialogue between Dolly and her fiancé Howard, played too straight (even for the straight man) by Bernard Glincosky, is so replete with see how backwards people were in the 50s winks to the audience they had me covering my face in mild embarrassment. But Pauls knows this a farce, not some satire of America’s great repressed decade, and the play seems unsure of its own standing until her “I’m a librarian” and this is all “research” shtick really picks up steam.
The inevitable bondage and discipline scene, when it comes, is comical enough, although it wouldn’t have killed anyone to put some oomph into those paddles and whips, but hey, no harm, no foul, and consequently, no bite either, though there’s plenty of nibble. Patsy deservedly gets the last word with a punch line that’s still funny even if you saw it coming the whole way.
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