Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love Dr. Mueller

Baltimore bad girl, Haight-Ashbury hippie, punk-era downtown scene-maker: the chapters in Cookie Mueller's life may be varied and colorful but they're all evidence of an adventurer who lived by her own rules. One of the shrewdest ideas in this new play, directed and co-adapted from Mueller's writings by Kareem Fahmy, is to break the rules and have the three actresses in the cast of six take turns playing her in successive scenes. Each brings a distinct characterization, and yet each is valid: the conceit makes the show less about who Cookie Mueller was, and more about what her life was about. Most of the episodes are both era-evoking and funny - the snappiest one freezes the goings-on in a seedy Jersey strip club while Mueller deadpans her mixed feelings to us about doing "floor work" - and even the weaker ones - such as the too-brief peek behind the scenes of John Waters' underground cult classic Pink Flamingos - are entertaining.

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