Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Wicked, Wicked Mae West (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

The Brickhouse Theatre stands just off Camarillo in North Hollywood, a lovely small venue of about fifty seats.   The Wicked Wicked Mae West marks the first performance I've actually attended here. Not quite a one woman show, it consists of a pre-show interview between CBS host/newsman Charles Collingswood (Michael Robb) and the Hollywood icon of the title (Colette Rosario).  Technically playwright William Manus did something very clever here--the focus of this biographical one-act does not speak to the audience but rather answers questions from--amidst fairly intense flirthing with--a man who finds her fascinating, but has the instincts of a very good journalist.

The result proves entertaining and informative overall.  I feel my knowledge of Mae West has tripled at least, and never once did I feel bored.  Both performers feel very comfortable on stage and (no small thing) the flirting feels real.

On the other hand, I felt the rest of the audience enjoyed it a lot more than myself, mostly (maybe) as major fans of the subject matter as well as the classic days of Hollywood in general.  I wished the play were edgier, had more conflict, its exchanges more intense and less comfortable.  But to be fair, I always felt interested and never felt bored.

Honestly, I did feel the moment when Mae West recreates her meeting with Marilyn Monroe did not at all fit--mostly because it stood alone.  Were there several more such moments (as if West were returning in memory to events) the play would feel more intimate and emotionally powerful, or so it seems to me.

The Wicked Wicked Mae West plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm until March 17, 2018 at the Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove (just off Vineland, near Lankershim & Camarillo), North Hollywood CA 90601.

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