Capsule Stage Reviews: Electile Dysfunction, Exit the Body, Gilligan's Island, Moments in a Decade

Electile Dysfunction Radio Music Theatre has tackled the wild and wacky political season with this funny play, which is full of characters as kooky as the past few months have been. Writer/director Steve Farrell knows just how to put things into perspective. His silly show features the Jones family from Precious Trees, "the most planned planned community" in Houston. Mom, Dad and Junior all support different candidates. The Spy Eye News team finds out about the argument and decides to feature the family as a human interest story. The actors present the newscast complete with commercials; the funniest features a very familiar furniture salesman named Uncle Dan (played by a hysterical Farrell), who sells a "political leaning chair" that leans to the left or the right depending on your preference and a recliner that shoots bullets. Back on the show, Damn Mad (Rich Mills) rants about politics, and the biggest story of the week focuses on the pastor of the biggest church in Texas — it's so big it used to be a whole ranch. Nothing is actually settled during the show, but lots of fun is had as the politics of the hour get chewed over. Through November 15. 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722. — LW

Exit the Body It's a desperate playwright who needs a closet with a secret door for his story. Lots of bodies come and go through that door in the old New England house in Fred Carmichael's murder mystery/comedy, most without rhyme or reason. A few, though, have comic purpose, so if you can close your mind to the improbabilities that Carmichael lays out and then stumbles over, you might have a halfway decent time at Ace Theatre. Successful mystery writer Crane Hammond (Jane Almquist) rents an old house in New England to recharge her batteries before she begins another best-seller. While Crane's acerbic gal-Friday Kate (Carolyn Corsano Wong) bitches about the lack of noise and how many trees there are, we meet the odd collection of locals: Vernon (Elbert Daugherty), the cranky town sheriff and taxi driver; Jenny (Cathy Ransom), the incompetent housekeeper whose idea of an ice bucket is putting ice cubes in a bucket; and Helen (Leona Hoegsberg), the busybody realtor who constantly drops in to check on her celebrity renter. Down the road is Crane's best friend Lillian (Nancy McVille), a famous fashion designer who has secretly married her boyfriend Lyle (K.R. Kretz). Among various bodies lurking in that overused closet are petty hood Randolph (Cris Keller), who's seeking diamonds hidden somewhere in the old house, and amnesiac Philip (Chad Thackston/Glen Lambert), who's been conked on the head and can't remember why he's there. Overall, it's an uneventful night in front of the TV. Through June 28. Ace Theatre, 17011 Bamwood, 281-587-1020. — DLG


Electile Dysfunction

Gilligan's Island Sitcom classic Gilligan's Island has been in syndication for so long, it's a shock to realize that it ran on CBS for only three seasons, 1964 through 1966. Savaged by the critics, the 100-plus episodes hit some kind of cosmic nerve in the American psyche — who, of a certain age, doesn't know the show? Bumbling Gilligan is shipwrecked on a south Pacific island with his exasperated Skipper and their five passengers: the millionaire Thurston Howell and his wife Lovey; Ginger, the movie star; the Professor; and small-town girl Mary Ann. The dumb TV show has been adapted by original creator Sherwood Schwartz (an Emmy winner from TV's golden age), along with his son, his daughter and his son-in-law (the noted rock guitarist Laurence Juber) into an equally mindless but highly adorable musical. It's so silly and appealing, all you can do is enjoy it. Whether it was intentional or not, UpStage Theatre has supplied plenty of cheesy production values that conjure the classic sitcom. The flimsy bamboo screens that flank the stage threaten to collapse at the slightest whisper, but they look so perfect painted in jungle camouflage and topped with dried-out palmetto fans. How can you dislike a show in which, out of the blue, the cast sings a lilting hula, gyrating in grass skirts (and that includes Thurston's teddy bear)? The whole enterprise has the sweet charm of Little Shop of Horrors. For a show without a single thought in its head, that's high praise indeed. Through June 28. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Blvd., 713-838-7191. — DLG

Moments in a Decade It's been ten years since Sonia Noriega and Sophia L. Torres put together Psophonia Dance Company in hopes of making contemporary dance accessible to folks who don't think of themselves as, ahem, Modern Dance People. The success of their mission floated across the stage at Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex last weekend in Moments in a Decade, a program stitched together from pieces Noriega and Torres have created for the company over the years. The variety of dance was striking. Skinned, choreographed by Noriega, featured music by Cole Porter and fluid, loose-limbed, muscular moves from charming dancing clown Timothy Johnson. A more serious and poetic piece was Lightness & Darkness, choreographed by Torres, about the attraction of each to its opposite. This thoughtful, still dance emerged out of an enormous black-and-white circle of cloth that swept across the stage. With music by Jesse Manno, it felt as much like a prayer as a dance. In between these two extremes were fun pieces like Excerpt from Mazagines & Beat Selts, in which the dancers romped across the stage with mattresses, jumping on them like children, and the ironic How Sweet It Is! featuring music by Francis Scott Key. Taken as a whole, the program revealed a dance company that anyone could adore. — LW


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