Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy in the Poorhouse

Photo/Larry Cobra

In honor of Derek Ahonen appropriating the dime-novel romance and turning it into Odets and Williams Gone Wild, I'd like to coin a new word to describe Happy in the Poorhouse: melomedy. I'd then like to clarify that while I didn't think this latest piece from the Amoralists packed as deep a punch as their last show, The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side, it still absolutely knocked me out. This cast knows how to hit their marks without toppling into absurdity, and though the show gets too big for its own britches (too packed for a drama, too small for a farce), it does so in a confidently Hulking out sort of way. I wish more attention had been spent on the central conceit: Paulie (James Kautz) must work up the confidence to sleep with his wife, the love of his life Mary (Sarah Lemp), before his ex-best-friend (and her ex-husband), Petie (William Apps) returns from Iraq and steals her back. But at least many of the divergences are creative and interesting, and always charmingly played, particularly by people like Matthew Pilieci (and his sexual sight-gags) and Rochelle Mikulich (who brings new meaning to the word mousy). One of the wackier yet more heartfelt lines of the night goes something like this: "If you don't follow your dreams, you'll get eaten by a shark." Ahonen and company have left that shark far behind: they're living their dream, and this is a great start to what's looking like a terrific 2010 season for them.

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