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Gallery O on H
Remaining performances (tickets available here):
Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18 at 8 p.m.
They Say: Dairy comes on Mondays and staple guns on Sundays. A Ferris wheel turns and the dentist comes knocking. A pair of young women invite the stranger in. Two will leave, one will burn and the dog will probably die.
Cassie’s Take: After squinting at the performers for the duration of the quick, rollicking Half Past What? and flipping through my notes countless times, I’m still not entirely sure I can accurately describe the show. At the top of my notes I wrote, “Broad City on bath salts.”
Two women, Raf (Cathryn Benson) and Tot (Kathleen Barth) live off of shots of vinegar and raw bacon while speaking in abstract, handcrafted sentences. The dialogue has a Shel Silverstein silliness to it (if Silverstein’s poetry were actually scandalous limericks). I would give you an example, but anytime I tried to jot down a sentence, the performers had already moved on to another head-scratching, albeit delightful, thought.
Benson’s Raf has a feral, breathy energy to her. She’s prone to sudden outrages toward her meeker, dreamier roommate Tot, who’s resigned to the emotional abuse heaped on her. Raf stalks, slinks, flies, and prances around the cramped stage, shrieking nonsensically and bursting out oddball lines like, “Time to dust the bunnies.” Benson gives a full-bodied performance—neither Barth nor Benson waver while fluidly delivering their endless absurd lines (“Let’s play with the chess set I got you for your divorce,” pleads Tot. “I didn’t wear a white dress so there was no divorce,” Raf volleys back, which Tot agrees is reasonable). When Rif (Charlie Cook), a raffish traveling dentist, swoops in and titillates the two shut-ins while gratefully accepting their offer of a shot of vinegar, the play turns into one extended double entendre.
The set only has a few spare props—including a colorful papier-mâché dog which the two women are inexplicably afraid of—but makes use of clever tricks to lend the grassroots production a surreal quality. At one point Raf, after successfully seducing the traveling dentist, tosses confetti from behind the couch, a manic smile plastered on her face. After Tot and Rif realize they’re meant to be together, they begin waltzing around the room while Raf rises from behind the couch in a ball gown to throatily croon while the newly minted couple shift from the waltz to the Charleston. Adding to the surreality: the back of the “stage” leads to an outdoor bar, which led to some confusion when an elderly man opened the door, walked timidly onto the stage, realized he had just entered a play, and promptly back walked out.
That’s so Fringe.
See it if: “Broad City on bath salts” sounds appealing.
Skip it if: Your (my) Midwestern parents are visiting D.C. and they want to catch a show.