BWW Reviews: H STREET HOUSEWIVES at fallFRINGE Festival
Fall Fringe 2013 has begun, and with it, a happy mix of original shows from local performers. One fun example of this is H STREET HOUSEWIVES, written and produced by local storyteller and writer Jenny Splitter, and directed by Kristy Simmons.
For those who love Bravo's constant stream of Housewives programming, the show follows the same format. Four women are purposefully thrown together for the audience to follow their lives on DC's trendy H Street neighborhood. When the newest addition to the group threatens to level and redevelop all 11 blocks, the other women have to (try to) band together to save H Street from being destroyed.
The progression begins at everyone's favorite episode: the reunion special. There are a few flashbacks to previous events, and a moderator who helps to move things along. Everything, from costumes to set, is kept basic, in order for the audience and actors to focus on the events of the show. I loved the beginning, the typical sassy Housewives intro, where lighting blackouts transitioned between the characters' first times on stage.
Splitter has crafted an incredibly funny script. It is packed with wit, a vast awareness of every type of DC parent and resident, and one-liners that you will remember far after the show concludes. For example, when the housewives are prodded to speak about their neighborhood listserv, a gasp ensues, followed by "what happens on listserv, stays on listserv."
That being said, the performances of the show are somewhat of a rollercoaster. While yes, every single woman on the Housewives series is completely ridiculous, there is a fine line between being genuinely absurd for laughs, and too over the top.
As the show's moderator, Tag, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is absolutely hilarious. Her RuPaul-esque sass, combined with a genuine disdain for all things H Street and its inhabitants, makes for a very fun character.
Molly Woods Murchie (Suze) has created an ideal, uptight housewife, whose caustic thirst for power definitely resonates with DC audiences. Anika Harden (Francine) gets to be the most normal of the group, a power mom who pushes her greatly overachieving kids to the brink. She is genuine, sarcastic, and delivers her part well.
Peter Orvetti (Gina) has to get credit for coming out on stage in little else but a nude bra, black wig, and slightly see-through black dress. However, he relies too heavily on simply being funny because he's a dude in a dress. He was smiling through most of the show, overly tongue-in-cheek, making it difficult to find any kind of character or big laugh within his drag disguise.
Jessi Baden-Campbell (Lorraine) has a funny idea for her New Age, kombucha-obsessed role, but the portrayal wandered, and got too out there. While a number of overdramatic, yelling falls onto the floor may garner laughs from some, I found them to be too much.
Overall, Splitter has a funny show on her hands. It will make DC audiences aware of all the things we find silly about our city, especially H Street, and those addicted to Bravo can easily see the parody that exists within Splitter's lines. Despite a few bumps, H STREET HOUSEWIVES gives Fringe audiences a happy hour of escape into not only local theatre, but also the mental junk food that is reality TV.