Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Unhinged, Uncut and Uncensored The Houston playwrights responsible for Unhinged Productions' summer fest of short GLBT plays surely had the best of intentions. But that doesn't mean anyone should create a play out of routine, scatological TV-sketch gags, as does Christopher Lewis in The Bump, a play about a sad-sack who discovers a sore on his penis and wanly fantasizes during his visit to the doctor. Nor is a play with nebulously written characters a good idea; in Lisa Bunse's Starbucked: Two former lesbian lovers talk around their affair using "cream" and "coffee" as euphemisms and more pregnant pauses than Pinter himself. Also to be avoided is barb-less political satire -- witness Fernando Dovalina's Land of the Free, a futuristic, blandly unfunny satire about what'll happen if the Marriage Amendment passes nationwide. The remaining three plays work better but suffer from speedy windups, extraneous padding and unreal characters. Terms and Conditions by Steve Stewart is fun, thanks to a frisky performance by Julia Traber, who can turn an ordinary Œhello' into a sarcastic put-down worthy of Eve Arden. Traber's the butch lover of femme Natalie (Nicki Thomas). They both want babies from Natalie's incredulous former boyfriend (Alan Heckner), who ultimately balks. Wine and Wafers by Ed Vela is polished, structurally adroit, and the most consistently acted, telling the story of Catholic teen Norman (Phillip Hays), who comes out to his devout dad (John Stevens) and young sassy brother (Al Falik) during communion. Dad's surprisingly nonplused and thoroughly sympathetic to Norman's confession, but the play's softly dramatic power is unnecessarily sapped by the clergy's shenanigans in the confessionals. Blanche Davidian by Joey Berner has the most promise and the quirkiest premise. The Man (Alan Heckner), a palooka living in some remote rural region, purchases a mail-order bride. Who should arrive but a whiny drag queen (Glen Lambert) who could give bitch lessons to both Bette and Joan. The vibrant, very comic culture clash cries out for a second act. Through August 7. Midtown Art Center, 3414 La Branch, 713-899-0468.

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