Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Brown Derby Theatre's "Showgirls"

It Doesn't Suck
Rebar, Seattle, WA

The mere fact that we are seeing a live re-enactment of "Showgirls" performed by drag queens makes reviewing the audience almost a distraction. But onward we plow, because we have a GOAL here, people. The room is completely packed, as it is for all of the Brown Derby shows. People love Ian Bell, and local worshipees Jackie Hell, Ursula Android, Nick Garrison, and more amazing cast members from Bald Faced Lie and other local outfits.

This crowd is delightfully diverse: you have the Rebar regulars, Seattle theatre hipsters, and various alterna-hairdo'd, chained, and tattooed folk (including one guy with a tat on his FACE which is downright BALLSY). But the crowd also includes a highly odd 5% outlier group, consisting of people who are either here by themselves or who pretend to wait for dates. One guy even brings an extra coat to drape over the seat next to him, and he shuns everyone looking for a chair before the show starts. His "date" never shows up, but the coat stays on the chair for the whole show. Right after it ends he flees.

We sit next to a guy who spends most of the pre-show by himself, so my friend chats him up a bit. Then a girl shows up and they sort of interact, but not really. About seven minutes BEFORE the end of the show they get up, grab their coats, and muscle their way down the narrow aisle to leave. How can you leave before the end of this show? There is ACTION on stage. Is it a babysitting issue? Parking? Is their desire for one another so strong that they can't wait for the scintillating denouement of this plot? It is flabbergasting.

Being packed in as we are and watching the constant motion on the stage (plus Ian Bell's hilarious stage directions and quips) creates one highly engaged audience. The script and Ursula's robotic delivery makes our faces hurt from laughing, and when cast members mess up or wigs fall off we laugh even harder. I wonder if there are any conservative people here on a dare.

(Have you ever sat with a friend who has a different style of show appreciating than you do? So maybe you're both watching a show and something really funny happens and you look at your friend to catch her eye and connect at that moment just a bit but your friend tends to stare straight ahead and ignore everyone else in the room so you adjust and you stare straight ahead and quit the glances but by then your friend realizes what you were trying to do and so she starts looking back at you once in a while to make up for ignoring you during the first part, but by then it's too late and you're out of sync. Right? Ya.)

It's a highly satisfying show, and it must be a killer on the performers. No wonder they only do three shows (though I heard that the Monday show was canceled at the last minute due to a medical issue which sucks - they're going to do a makeup show). The next time they do this, go.


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