Friday, September 28, 2012

Thinking Cap Theatre: The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (reviews)

Thinking Cap Theatre opened its production of The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage on September 27, 2012.
The Florida premiere of Mariah MacCarthy's bitingly funny comedy about bodies and boundaries. This dance-theater mash-up  explores gender stereotypes from every conceivable angle, including the tomboy, the sensitive guy, the slut, the gay best friend, the man-hating lesbian and more. We hope you'll join us for a playful yet poignant theater-going experience!
Nicole Stodard directed a cast that included Noah Levine, Christina Jolie Breza, James Carrey, Nori Tecosky, Danny Nieves, Desiree Mora, Andy Herrmann, Andrea Bovino and Arturo Sierra.

John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
...with a lesser cast, The All-American Genderfuck Cabaret might have come off as didactic hokum dressed in provocative clothing. But this ensemble sells the material with natural humor and tender conviction. There may not be a standout (save for Levine's emcee), but there is not a weak link, either. Everyone fits like puzzle pieces into director Nicole Stodard's vision of McCarthy's tapestry of American youth, playing off each other's infectious energy.
Levine's Taylor is a special performance. He plays the part with elastic comic timing and effortless, scene-stealing confidence that belies the fingernail-extension flamboyancy and emotional confusion that have too often defined transvestism in popular culture.
There's a particularly moving he-said, she-said account of a semiconsensual rape and how it affected both parties that wallows in the expansive gray area between right and wrong, yes and no. The scenes are extraordinarily acted by Carrey and Breza, who elevate these segments from isolated pieces of a narrative patchwork to this play's very heart and soul, representing everything McCarthy was shooting for.
The play's "soundscape," credited to Stodard and technical director David Hart, includes spontaneous, choreographed dance numbers to Beyoncé and Arcade Fire tunes. The nightclub scene, set during a '90s night, features a montage of nostalgic song excerpts ranging from Sir Mix-a-Lot to Radiohead, cleverly tailored to each character. Creating the drama and ambiance that is absent from Chastity Collins' no-budget set design, Nate Sykes' lighting design enhances a hellish nightmare sequence and another character's elaborate, circusy fantasy. There is a lot going on in this production in its second act, where it finally lives up to the cabaret concept offered in the title.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Thinking Cap Theatre’s uneven production of Mariah MacCarthy’s in-your-face fantasia has serious flaws, but it’s also undeniably funny throughout its first act and occasionally touching in the second act as twentysomethings stumble about in the minefield of gender stereotypes and sexual expectations.
The production and script have major flaws. It lasts way too long. Episodes are not acted or directed in a way that puts a definitive end to scenes. Some scenes such as dance breaks, while cute and imaginative, are extraneous. Some actors are a lot more vibrant and convincing than others, with the latter dragging down the pace of some scenes.

Still, director Nicole Stodard and her cast deliver the anarchic, droll style that MacCarthy was looking for. Stodard has also gotten some of the best work to date from several actors who have appeared in Thinking Cap’s other unconventional outings.  Most effective were Christina Jolie Breza as a personal trainer who hasn’t had sex in 2 ½ years and James Carrey as a thick-headed beau who eventually finds his way to a relationship.
Noah Levine gives the most indelible performance as the sardonic, flirty emcee who watches the human comedy with empathy emanating from his mascara-ringed eyes and a sensuous slash of downturned lips.
At its core, Cabaret is recommending a live-and-let-live philosophy that finds less worth in labels than true emotion.  As one character says, “Gender is not a two-party system…. It’s not black and white. It’s Technicolor.”
Thinking Cap Theatre presents The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage through October 13, 2012.

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