photo: David Rodgers
It's been fifteen years since Charles Busch first donned wigs and heels to star in his delightful spoof of 1940's suspense melodrama: ever since, some of us poor suckers have been starving to death for another taste of this deliciously kitschy bon-bon. Busch is Gertrude Garnet, a world-famous concert pianist who agrees to Mata-Hari a smitten SS officer while touring Bavaria: there's a big laugh when she extends her man-sized hands and says they are insured by Lloyd's of London. Every move Busch makes, both as playwright and as performer, reveals a deep understanding and affection for the high-style dramatics of the silver screen heroines of a long-gone era. Every lift of an eyebrow has an impact. Think of it as the kind of send-up that The Carol Burnett Show used to do, but better and just a little bit warped by flashes of raunchy naughtiness and the gently subversive texture of drag. The ensemble in this production (which includes Richard Kind, Julie Halston, Matt McGrath and Candy Buckley) is pitch-perfect individually and in tandem: everyone gets the style of the material and achieves it. This may be the best play that Busch has in his drag closet, and this production (at Bay Street Theatre, in Sag Harbor) is every bit as fun as the original one.