|L-R: Jason Cruz and Jason Edward Cook in DROP DEAD PERFECT. Photo by John Quilty.|
Drop Dead Perfect by Erasmus Fenn (whomever he might be) received rave reviews and played to sold-out audiences last year, prompting its current return to Theatre at St. Clements on West 46th Street in midtown Manhattan. In its present incarnation, it features the same zany cast: Everett Quinton (in drag) as the wealthy and mentally unbalanced Idris Seabright; Jason Edward Cook (also in drag) as Vivien, Idris’ physically handicapped ward who is an aspiring sculptress; Jason Cruz as Ricardo, a mysterious Cuban stranger; and Timothy C. Goodwin who does double duty as Phineas Fenn (Idris’ lawyer) and as Phineas’ son (the play’s narrator).
Idris is taken to writing and re-writing her will (which appears to be Phineas Fenn’s main function) and to sketching stilllifes – which requires that her subjects really be still - even if that entails freezing her goldfish, waxing her apples, or killing and stuffing her dog. She becomes especially deranged when Vivien announces her intention to leave Idris’ home and go to Greenwich Village to pursue an artistic career. The arrival of Ricardo, who bears a striking resemblance to Idris’ former lover, and who is not above dallying with the affections of both Idris and Vivien, complicates matters still further.
The play is clearly intended as a star turn for Everett Quinton who does what he does and does it very well (though some might question why he bothers to do it in the first place). But without detracting from Mr. Quinton’s performance, I must say that, much to my own surprise, I was far more impressed by Jason Edward Cook’s extraordinary dance performance.
Joe Brancato, the play’s director, has described the play as “a madcap romp that celebrates and satirizes movie melodramas, with a nod to both Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Burnett” and the play’s press release emphasizes that it is “laced with double-entendres and homages to 1950s television and Hollywood melodramas” and only is “recommended for those who possess a slightly twisted sense of humor and appreciation of slapstick TV comedies such as I Love Lucy and camp horror such as Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
I won’t disagree and, if you fall into that category (“those who possess a slightly twisted sense of humor and appreciation of slapstick TV comedies such as I Love Lucy and camp horror”), then this production might be right up your alley. But if not, you may be disappointed, finding that the show’s double entendres, sophomoric ethnic humor, penis jokes, and persistent satirization of Lucille Ball really are more puerile than clever.