Los Angeles Theater Review: STREEP TEASE (bang Comedy Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on September 2, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles


A friend called me and said that comedian Roy Cruz, who reenacted Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada) in his stand-up act, decided to collect an impressive array of actors to perform an evening of monologues from Meryl movies. You have to see Taylor Negron do Sophie’s Choice, I was told. Of course, I should have attended Streep Tease simply to enjoy seven different interpretations of Streep’s work; instead I went to review it. Big mistake.

Nothing I can say will keep aficionados of high-camp away from this sold-out, once-a-week hit, nor do I wish you to necessarily avoid it. It is a silly comic valentine for people who love Streep – although some of the humor will escape those unfamiliar with her body of work. Have a few drinks nearby at Canter’s Kibitz Room before arriving; watch the one-hour parade of monologues, and leave smiling at the conceit of the whole thing. Some may even be titillated by the audience participation in-between scenes, such as the Streep Smart contest (who can match the dialogue with the movie?). Enjoy.

Here’s the caveat: it feels like the director, Ezra Weisz, let the actors interpret each Streep character on their own, leaving us to wonder why so many moments simply didn’t work. Mr. Cruz may have knocked them dead during a comedy show, but he does not truly inhabit the character of Miranda Priestly; his style is not definable: it’s not high camp, it’s not serious – it’s just, well, so silly. To semi-quote Michael Musto of The Village Voice, it’s like a drag queen doing an impersonation of Meryl Streep doing an impersonation of a drag queen…but out of drag. I’ve seen better inhabitants of movie stars wobbling down Santa Monica Boulevard on Halloween. Naturally some people are going to chuckle: all of that lip-pursing and eyebrow manipulation from a guy. Isn’t that, well, so silly?

What frustrated me is that these actors are so damn talented; they just simply lacked guidance from a director. Trent Walker alternated from touching to awkward during his Silkwood monologue. Steve Hasley falls into a netherworld of weak choices in Bridges of Madison County: the best laugh he got came from a tufa sponge prop, not from his interpretation – I remember thinking I wish this was funnier… no, I wish this were more serious… I wish… oh, never mind; ultimately, it just felt like Halsey imitating La Streep versus embodying her. The equally talented Drew Droege also left me wondering if I should cry or laugh – instead I did neither.

The marvelous David Dean Bottrell led the hands-down funniest portion of the show: he delivered a credible Karen Blixen narrating Out Of Africa while the actors around him acted out the movie a la The Lion King.

My dismay intensified when I discovered that Taylor Negron is no longer in the show. My companion queried as we walked back to the car, “Jeez, how do you review a show like that?”

“I have no idea,” I said. “What do you think?”

And then that wonderful moment when it takes an audience member to say what I ultimately wanted to say: “Well, it was short.”

photos by Sabrina Hill Weisz

Streep Tease
scheduled to close September 19, 2010
for tickets, visit http://www.bangstudio.com/streep-tease/

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