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Coochie Coup

This racy, riotously funny Conversation is the summer's most entertaining show

When grown women finally get around to talking about sex, they can out-nasty any group of pimply-faced pubescent boys. Just look at the gals in Wayne DeHart's Coochie Conversation, now running at The Ensemble Theatre. After a couple of shots of vodka, they're ready to talk about everything from their first blow jobs to the all-important differences between dildos and vibrators. And they're having a great time: They laugh and dance and get downright seductive while they whoop it up. Audience members, who get to spend one glorious hour listening in on this racy, riotously funny conversation, are in for the time of their lives. In fact, there hasn't been a more entertaining bit of live theater on any stage in Houston this summer.

The premise of the show is simple. Joyce Anastasia (all the actresses' real names are used in the play) is hosting a girls' night out. Her eclectic group of friends is supposed to bring poetry to share. Anastasia tells the group she has rented The Virginia Monologues in case things get boring. When the group realizes that she actually has a copy of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, the fun starts to fly. The liquor comes out, and so do the terrific stories.

A lot of the joy in this production comes from the fact that the actresses on stage are clearly having so much fun with their wildly eccentric characters. Cheray Dawn Josiah sashays into the party. When she realizes that she's the first guest, she turns around and walks out, claiming she can't be the first guest at any party. Once she finally does arrive on the scene, she turns out to be the most fiery, opinionated dame of the night, especially when she's talking about female problems.

Pussy power: After shots of vodka, the dishing begins.
Courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre
Pussy power: After shots of vodka, the dishing begins.

Then Alice Fulks shows up with her grand gestures. We soon discover that she's an actress who wants everyone to know how important she is. One of the funniest scenes happens when she pulls out a script she's working on. She's very dramatic, even if she can't remember a single word of her speech.

And the sexy girl in tight jeans is Melissa R. DuPrey, who understands more than anybody at the party how a woman might find pleasure. DuPrey steals the stage on several occasions, but most especially when she whips out her case full of vibrators and dildos. It's not the items in question that are so compelling (though there is quite a selection) but the many ways DuPrey talks about them with such knowing experience.

Tamara Levine and Erica Grant fill out the charming cast, spending a lot of their time listening to their more vociferous sisters go on about sex and bodies and all the problems they can bring. There's PMS -- which stands for "potential murder suspect." There's also all those lame men out there who beg for "some." But what is "some," ask the ladies, "one quarter of your pussy?"

At one point each woman brags about the power of her "pussy." One's got "life-changing pussy"; another's got "born-again pussy"; and one woman claims "My pussy will make Bush stop lying!"

The only real missteps in this show come when the subject turns serious. There's a five-minute lecture from one character on the subject of female circumcision. The moment feels as though it were crowbarred into the production because somebody felt it was important to discuss. All the action comes to a complete halt, and nothing in this speech feels organic or real.

Otherwise, everything here is rendered with such gutsy good humor that even the raunchiest moments feel surprisingly natural and fresh. These ladies are both fun to watch and terrifically easy to like.

In the program, DeHart tells us he created his text after writing and producing Dicktalk(the title says it all). Apparently the women who saw that show wanted a "female version." So DeHart met with "the Ôgirls'" on "several occasions" to "let them talk and decide what they wanted to put in the show." The results of those meetings probably won't shine any new light on the subject of sex, but they sure will make a lot of ladies -- and any men brave enough to venture into the theater -- laugh till their bellies ache.

 
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