'Dead Marilyn': simply outrageous

November 16, 1990|By J. Wynn Rousuck

'Dead Marilyn' When: Tonight through Sunday at 8 p.m.; Nov. 23 and 24 at 9 and 11 p.m.; Nov. 25 at 8 p.m.

Where: Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.

Tickets: $10-$16.

Call: 752-8558.

** If you think John Waters' early movies cornered the market on bad taste, you probably haven't seen "Dead Marilyn," the one-man show -- yes, one-man -- currently raising the dead at the Theatre Project. "Dead Marilyn" has something to offend nearly everyone.

And yet, and yet -- dare we say it? -- underneath the psychedelic lights, blaring disco music, four-letter words, obscene gestures and desecration of the flag, there's something about Peter Stack's performance that makes your heart go out to the late Marilyn Monroe.

And it's not just because she -- or, more specifically, her corpse -- is being portrayed by a man whose body is covered with dirt, peeling skin and hairy cobwebs. This performance is outrageous even by Theatre Project standards, but it elicits your sympathy for a woman who let herself be exploited, and your disgust for those who exploited her.

Of course, disgust is probably an apt description of the reaction of the uninitiated to "Dead Marilyn." But on opening night Mr. Stack, a former makeup artist, was clearly preaching (screeching?) to the converted.

His entrance was greeted by rhythmic clapping and cries of "Dead Marilyn! Dead Marilyn!" and his daintier poses met with loud trilling sounds. And that's nothing compared to the response he has elicited in other cities, where, reportedly, fans PTC have shown up covered with mud and wearing blond wigs.

What exactly goes on in "Dead Marilyn"? Well, there's a fairly elaborate dirt-covered set, complete with a stained-glass window, in front of which we first glimpse the decomposing movie queen. (Incidentally, some of the dirt for the Baltimore run is said to come from Edgar Allan Poe's grave.)

Mr. Stack then staggers around singing a half-dozen songs with titles such as "Kill Me Kill Me Kill Me" and laying blame for Monroe's death on the Kennedys.

At one point he informs us, "I'm not a female impersonator. I'm not Marilyn Monroe. I'm a monster." No question about that, particularly when he shows up wigless and bald, wearing the famous wind-blown dress from "The Seven Year Itch" and singing a new rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" that includes references to Madonna and safe sex.

The entire show -- experience? happening? frontal assault? -- lasts less than an hour, but that will be plenty for most people.

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