Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy in the Poorhouse

Photo: Larry Cobra

What do you get when you mix camp, genuine emotion, and poetry? If you're lucky, you get Happy in the Poorhouse, the Amoralists' new play, beautifully written and directed by Derek Ahonen. Down-and-out fighter Paulie "the Pug"; his sexually frustrated wife Mary; their dumb and egotistical roommate Joey the mailman; Paulie's sister Penny the country-western singer; and Mary's ex-husband Petie the vet are just some of the people fighting for their dreams at the top of their lungs in Paulie and Mary's apartment in Coney Island. Anohen provides them with funny, vivid, and revealing dialogue. At one point Mary says, "So what's your point with all this waxing poetry, Paulie?," and Ahonen indeed "waxes poetry" with a unique combination of malapropisms, vulgarity, and bizarre-but-exact metaphors. Ahonen's breakneck pacing and almost-cartoonish characters provide an entertaining roller coaster ride, yet he and the cast never lose sight of the reality of the believably wounded characters and their deep needs. The superb ensemble--led by James Kautz, sweet and heartbreaking as Paulie, and Sarah Lemp, perfect as Mary--nail their Brooklyn accents and beautifully balance on that thin line between good over-the-top and bad over-the-top. Catch Happy in the Poorhouse now (only $40 for adults and $20 for students), and you'll be able to say that you knew Derek Ahonen and the Amoralists when.

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