BWW Review: DENIM DOVES – A Deliriously Silly Bawdy Romp

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Adrienne Dawes' new play, DENIM DOVES, is now in its World Première staging at Salvage Vanguard Theatre. Described as a collaboratively devised piece created with SVT and as a feminist farce, DENIM DOVES plays like a modern day version of a Greek comedy by Aristophanes. It's a deliriously silly bawdy romp that explores woman subjugated under a "dick-tatorship".

Indeed, DENIM DOVES owes a great deal to the traditions of Greek theatre from its religious satire and abundance of ribald sexual innuendo right down to the Deus ex machina ending. Directed by Florinda Bryant and Jenny Larson, there is a lot to enjoy in this bawdy entertainment; however, the piece seems to waver between broadly comic and deadly earnest. The parts that work the best are those that involve the audience, notably a moment where a man (or "penis") is put on a pedestal and 5 women from the audience hold paper cups of Welch's Grape Juice for him to dunk his bread stick in. While it really doesn't advance the plot, it is hilariously funny to watch the faces of those conscripted into the silliness.

The piece starts with the clanging shut of the doors to the theatre, putting the audience in the same locked in situation as the women in the play. The audience is then told: "You are safe here, Sister." The list of freedoms are also given: "Free sleep. Free Welches grape. Free laughter. Free denims of every length." The piece is described as being set in a dystopian future; however, there's nothing that supports that concept. It really feels more like one of those religious compound tales of Warren Jeffs or David Koresh. There's also more than a little touch of "A Handmaid's Tale" here. In the sillier moments, the piece plays like the bunker segments of Tina Fey's The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Part of the problem with the script is the fact that nothing is really explained. We don't know how these women got here.

Interspersed through the piece are some really lovely songs performed with hand bells that act as a Greek Chorus to the action. These songs, written by Erik Secrest and Henna Chou with lyrics by Cyndi Williams are a highlight of the evening.

The cast here is a really top notch group of comic actors: Kerri Atwood, Florinda Bryant, Henna Chou, Alyssa Dillard, Judd Farris, Jenny Larson, Renna Larson, khattieQ, Erik Secrest and Cyndi Williams.

Judd Farris plays "The Penis" or master of the women who aren't able to produce an heir in a sublimely goofy performance as the man who thinks shaking hands is a sexual act.

Cyndi Williams is superb as deadly serious wife number one. Jenny Larson is excellent as super-breeder wife number six in a performance that propels the action when she's onstage. Erik Secrest is funny in a low key portrayal as the bearded 37-year-old son of wife number one. Unfortunately, a lot of what the playwright has given him is never really explained... like why does he always carry a shiv in his beard? Florinda Bryant turns in a charmingly innocent performance as wife number five. Renna Larson delivers a touching performance as the child of Wife Number Six.

While the piece still needs some judicious shaping and clarification by the playwright, this is still a fun evening of silliness.

DENIM DOVES by Adrienne Dawes

Music by Erik Secrest and Henna Chou. Lyrics by Cyndi Williams.

Running time: Approximately 90 minutes, performed without an intermission. For mature audiences, contains nudity.

DENIM DOVES plays The Salvage Vanguard Theater (2803 E. Manor Road) now thru Feb 13, 2016. Thursday -Saturday nights at 8pm.

TICKETS

Tickets are pay-what-you-wish, $10 online minimum, $35 tickets for Super Harvest Super Party on Feb 6th. Buy tickets online at http://salvagevanguard.org/tickets/, or call 512-474-SVT6, or email box@salvagevanguard.org



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From This Author Frank Benge