Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Wild With Happy" ☼ ☼ ☼

Coleman Domingo's "Wild with Happy" is a farce. A gay farce. A gay, black farce. At its best it makes you laugh out loud and appreciate the strange situation into which each character has wedged himself. In the one female role, Sharon Washington (in a double assignment as Adelaide/Aunt Glo) is so good you are not the least bit surprised that she was nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actress Lucille Lortel Award when the show premiered Off-Broadway in 2012. When you leave the theater you are still talking about her.

There is not a lot of meat on these bones, though. Jokes, yes. Insightful comments on the funerary industry, on the morés of black people, of gay people, of church and its reluctance to accept gay people, yes indeed. There is a lot more here too, including alienation and a modern world's reliance on detached communication. But for us the problem is Gil.

As the lead character, Gil (played by Domingo) could help us a lot more than he does. Perhaps his ultra-cool New York sheen says a lot to his target audience, but it doesn't give the rest of us much to go on. It takes until the very end of the show until we get a very small hint of what has been haunting him vis á vis his mother, but Domingo the writer and Domingo the actor take a long time to get us there. The rest of the time Gil mostly kvetches.

"Wild With Happy" is for laughs. The gags are a mile-a-minute, most of them from the deliriously loony mouth of Aunt Glo. "Cremation?" she asks Gil. "We don't do that! Maybe if they're burned or mutilated or too fat to fit in the coffin. But that's it!" You just keep talking, Aunt Glo.

So what are Duane Boutté (Mo) and Richard Prioleau (Terry) doing there anyway? Adoring Gil, mostly. Aunt Glo doesn't go for that. That's why we love her.

We also love Erik Flatmo's set, especially the way he pictures the car chase during the road trip South. The Cinderella room -- well, it just may be the Happiest Place on Earth.

RATINGS: ☼  ☼  ☼
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Wild With Happy" Three Stars. Go to have your funny bone tickled by Sharon Washington. 

"Wild With Happy" 
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through June 30

 Photo Credit: Tracy Martin and Mark Kitaoka

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