Sunday, 10 November 2013

Mildred Fierce, Theater 80, Off-broadway

Yup, it's drag-time! "Mildred Fierce" is shamelessly retro-drag, digging out Joan Crawford's second-finest-moment on screen (right after Baby Jane) as an excuse for jokes, songs and general ridiculousness. I can't defend it as high art, or even as particularly witty, but goddamn is it good fun - throwing taste out the window and throwing puppets, dance-numbers, innuendoes and all out stupidity in.

Varla Jean Merman plays the long-suffering Mildred with appropriate histrionics, drama and all-round ridiculousness. Varla is, of course, the fictitious child from the very real 32-day marriage of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine  (the chapter entitled "my marriage to Earnest Borgnine" in Ethel Merman's biography is a blank page). She's also a man in a dress, but a man who has a spectacular pair of legs and unleashes them occasionally during dance numbers.

Can I recommend this as high quality theatre you should leap to? Nope, it's a ridiculous cartoon, slapped together, basically panto for adults (the song lyrics in particular are pretty poor, though the puppet and model work throughout are quite fun). But as a light fluffy diversion ... this diverts nicely.

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