'Stealth!!!' undergoes plot meltdown

February 07, 1992|By Mike Giuliano

Although Margo Lee Sherman's solo show at the Theatre Project, "Stealth!!!," hardly lives up to the three exclamation points appended to its title, Ms. Sherman's march through her wacko material is energetic enough to almost make up for the flimsiness of her plotting.

It comes as no surprise that this New York-based performer can hold her own on the stage. Having been a member of two influential theater companies, the Bread and Puppet Theater and the Talking Band, she also has numerous solo pieces and some Beckett to her credit. So it's no wonder she can shift from one character to another as readily as she puts on a mask or changes an accent.

Less secure is the writing in the two separate 30-minute pieces comprising an evening that's collectively known as "Stealth!!!" Written by the performer in collaboration with Sandy Mowbray-Clarke, "Stealth!!!: A Thermo-Nuclear Sex Comedy" and "If Your Husband Wants a Dog" both more or less deal with contemporary battles of the sexes. But if Ms. Sherman is able to capture the hyperactive randomness of so many modern romances, much of the humor is strained and many of the vignettes seem even more random than the world she's spoofing.

In "Stealth!!!: A Thermo-Nuclear Sex Comedy," this busy performer plays four friends named Jill, Sarah, Ed and Fred who are involved in an amorous menage-a-Manhattan that has as much partner-switching as does Arthur Schnitzler's "La Ronde." Mostly, Ms. Sherman portrays Jill, whose genteel manners in the face of even the most chaotic events can be very funny. Also getting laughs is a knockabout scene where Ms. Sherman's Jill and three dummies representing Sarah, Ed and Fred become an animated tangle of arms and legs.

Less funny by the minute, though, is all the rhymed dialogue along the lines of: "Ed, why don't we jump in the hay and call it a day, OK?" Maybe Ms. Sherman is ironically trying to come up with a rhyming take on a world without rhyme or reason, but the attempt falls flat.

The second half of the evening, "If Your Husband Wants a Dog," begins promisingly with the entrance of an elderly woman, Octavia, whose mask is ringed by matted white curls that make her look like Raggedy Ann at the end of the road. There is charming conflict as Octavia declares she wants to get a female dog for companionship, while her husband of 57 years, Harold, insists on getting a male dog. Once Harold gets his way and heads off to Patterson Park with their male dog, he meets up with Little Red Riding Hood of all people. Ms. Sherman's satiric riff on that fairy tale has its moments, but the piece strays too far from the doggy dynamics of its premise.

'Stealth!!!'

When: Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. Through Feb. 16.

Where: The Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St.

Tickets: $10-$15.

Call: (410) 752-8558.

** 1/2

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