According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

FRIGID: The Dysfunctional Guide to Home Perfection, Marital Bliss and Passionate Hot Romance

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Ever wish that all the truths and mysteries unlocked about marriage and love over the centuries were contained in one source? Have therapy and friendly counsel failed to give you the answers that you seek? Then you'll be jumping for joy when you get yourself a copy of The Dysfunctional Guide to Home Perfection, Marital Bliss and Passionate Hot Romance, the companion to 2001's How to Have the Ultimate Orgasm Each and Every Time. Or not. Written over wine by Jennifer Gill, Rachel Grundy, Amy Overman, Amy Beth Sherman, and Theresa Unfried, this collaborative effort may display an impressive knowledge of strong historical females and may exhibit strong performances under Gill's competent direction, but the show itself stays too much in the head.

Gill incorporates her literary degree to develop the concept for the play, but the show never comes together as a cohesive drama. Rather, the narrative is broken up into all 9 chapters of the book (with chapter 9, The Sensuous Woman being the most lively and entertaining) that flirt briefly with characters such as Queen Elizabeth I, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Anne Bradstreet to give the audience different perspectives on dealing with relationships. It's just too bad that the presentation is little more than a literary course. The use of simple but effective props and costumes such as a bonnet and a knitted hat that convincingly dubs as a helmet allow the actors to shift in and out of the different characters, but the show is too monotonous. The stage is also littered with over 30 wine bottles that winds up being overkill: the wine is already mentioned in the playbill, and the labor involved in putting the show together is evident onstage.

What most holds The Dysfunctional Guide back is the lack of an authoritative voice. There are simply too many dissenting opinions, different writing styles and no unified theme. From remaining chaste and unmarried to keeping it sizzling in the bedroom, the show doesn't have any clear advice to dish out, which is what a guide should do. Perhaps the writers thought they could avoid the follow-through by calling it dysfunctional, but you still might walk out of the theater feeling short-changed.

FRIGID: The Dysfunctional Guide to Home Perfection, Marital Bliss and Passionate Hot Romance (50 minutes, no intermission)
The Red Room (85 E. 4th St. btwn 2nd Ave and Broadway)
Tickets: ($15)
Through March 7th

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