BWW Reviews: THE SECRET SOCIAL Holds Special Meeting at Cleveland Public Theatre
"As a member of the Secret Social, your presence is requested at a special meeting. Attendees must believe in the power of myth, true love and sacrifice. Suggested attire includes your most prized pair of shoes. Bring your friends, neighbors and coworkers (and your secret handshake)."
Thus, audiences are invited to attend the latest of Cleveland Public Theatre and Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant lively evenings of musical entertainment, light supper of paesano bread, farmers' cheese, kielbasa and borscht (Eastern European beet soup), and uninhibited goings on.
The goings-on, which are presented in a theatre arranged at cabaret tables, offers "friends who pay together stay together" and free bottles of wine for groups of 8 or more. If you don't come with someone, you'll be seated with other "friendless" people who will quickly become your best "buds."
Obviously, this is not traditional theatre fare. The evening is loosely based on The Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princess, sometimes called The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes, and/or The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces.
The story centers on twelve pretty princesses, each more beautiful than the other, who sleep in twelve beds in the same room. Every night the door to their room is locked, but each morning their shoes are found to be worn through. The perplexed king promises his kingdom to any man who can discover the tale of the shoes. But, beware, those who try and fail will be put to death. (How far are you willing to go to get the kingdom?)
Parallel to the story, each member of the audience is led on a path where each discovers the bedroom, sees the shoes, and proceeds to participate in the development of the story. Watch your footwear, be careful what you volunteer for, and if you are a prude, don't watch guy who runs through the goings-on sans garments. On the other hand, you might have a positive experience, as did the woman at our table who yelled out, "Wow, he has a cute tush" [a diminutive of the Yiddish word for the human posterior].
Many of the cast are back from last year's CPT/Connie's Avant Garde Restaurant extravaganza. The cast has fun, the audience has fun, the entire evening is meant for enjoyment, and enjoyable it is.
BTW—there is less food this year, which is just fine, as this is not dinner theatre. The grub is there as part of the story.
Capsule judgement: THE SECRET SOCIAL is not traditional theatre. No plot, no social message. All in all the goings on are intended for fun. That is, if you are in the mood to be uninhibited, and just have a great time. It also helps if you and half the audience are looped and let loose with rude and creative comments.
THE SECRET SOCIAL runs six nights a week through December 23 at 7:00. For tickets call 216-631-2727 or go on line to www.cptonline.org. Be aware that some evenings are sold out. You can find this information on the website.