BWW Reviews: ONE MONKEY DON'T STOP NO SHOW at Hatiloo
In this context, "monkey" is slang for an obstacle. Where obstacles are, collisions follow. City collides with country, middle class collides with working class, age collides with youth, and women collide with men.
Written by Don Evans, this play, set in 1970's Philadelphia is itself a collision--of sitcoms from that era and classic theatrical farce. Broad characters exchange one-liners in rapid-fire, then break the fourth wall to confide in the audience.
Directed by Patricia Smith and played by an ensemble with ample energy and heart, it's two hours of marvelously good fun. (All on a well-appointed set designed by Kyle McCord.)
The show opens in the posh home of Reverend Avery Harrison (Keith Anton) and his social climbing wife Myra (Mary Ann Washington).
Avery's niece, Beverly, (Maya Geri Robinson) arrives from the rural south in the wake of her father's death, having been left in the custody of his business partner, sexy, smooth-talking nightclub owner Caleb Johnson (Kenon Walker).
Meanwhile, the Harrisons' preppy son, Felix, (James Cook) learns that his streetwise girlfriend, Lil Bit, (Michele Mitchell) is possibly pregnant. The plot thickens when Caleb enlists bodacious beautician, Mozelle, (Nicole Wilburn) to give Beverly a makeover, Felix is confronted by Lil Bit's mother, (Mary Pruitt) and the reverend and his prudish wife find their carnal desires awakend after perusing an illustrated edition of The Joy of Sex.
Outlandish as the story is, this cast connects so well that I was quickly drawn in rooting for every character. Each idiosyncratic couple had so much chemistry that I wanted true love to prevail.
Act I sets up the conflicts. Act II resolves them with resonant frankness. Social pretensions are challenged. Puffed up machismo is deflated. Snobbishness--in every direction--is raked over the coals. And like all good satire, as it skewers the characters, it also pokes fun at each of us. For don't we all, at some time, in some way, believe we're higher class than we are?
This romp ends on a high note with the most joyous and gracious ensemble curtain call imaginable.
"One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" runs from January 9 - 26, 2014
656 Marshall Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
Box Office: (901) 525-0009