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Flash Review 2, 2-13:
"Jill in Brazil"
Trowing Orchids with Pulvermacher
By Chris Dohse
Copyright 2001 Chris Dohse
"Jill in Brazil," seen
Sunday at the Flea Theater, is the second installment of Neta Pulvermacher's
successful, year-old "The Orchid Show." Both chapters are narrated
by "Jill St. John," a drag queen, lip-synching orchid fancier, surrounded
by a rolicsome bouquet of hothouse beauties in astroturf and plastic,
dancers who double as potted plants and backup singers. The Brazil
episode takes the passionate Ms. St. John on a mythical journey
South, into a mysterious cave, in search of specimens of her beloved
flora. Along the way she encounters song, dance and storytelling
on the primordial origins of the orchid family. She even stops to
whip up a batch of orchid ice cream.
The basement theater
of the Flea is an awkward, intimate space, wide and shallow, with
odd windows and narrow passages cut from its back wall. This polka-dotted
space is oddly effective for the direct appeal of this wacky children's
theatre. Pulvermacher uses its windows and doorways to separate
and punctuate the action.
Jeremy Laverdure, as
St. John, strikes a perfectly supercilious purple-wigged chic. Tami
Stronach provides the real voice for the narration, and carries
the biggest share of sung parts as well, with zest. The other flowers
are Jason Marchant, Maile Okamura, Brittany Reese and Tracy Dickson.
All throw themselves delightfully into their roles.
Your faces may crack. This show is billed as a "hilarious show for
the whole family" and its matinee time slot ensures a healthy attendance
of rug rats. A mandatory Q&A afterwards requires you to stay in
your seat for extended exposure to the wee ones. The twisted humor
of the piece is actually too sophisticated for the very small, although
one little boy was intrigued by the occasional flash of underpants.
A degree of tension exists between the whimsy of the work's simplicity
and its potentially subversive naughtiness. The color and sound
and basic shenanigans work on a primary level, regardless of camp
content. Certain other references can be appreciated over the heads
of the diminutive. The awkwardness of parts of childhood are represented
as well. A story of Jill's childhood wish to become a flower is
abetted by the use of fetching hand puppets.
The original "Orchid
Show" and its all-dance predecessor, "River of Orchids" were presented
first on the program, which continues Saturdays and Sundays at 3
p.m. through February 25, with a 1 p.m. show February 21. For more
information, please call 212-226-2407.
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