the kathy and mo show
|Variety is the spice of 'Lives'
A two-person show at the Suncoast Resort features a deftly acted collection of comedy sketches with a broad appeal.
By LORRIE LYKINS
Published March 31, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show opened Friday night at the Suncoast Resort to a sparse but appreciative audience.
Co-written by comedian-actor Kathy Najimy (Soapdish, Sister Act) and standup comic Mo Gaffney, the two-person show is a collection of comedy sketches featuring memorably flawed characters who are mostly eccentric, bawdy and raucously upbeat. Najimy and Gaffney originated the characters when the show debuted off-Broadway in 1986; it became an HBO special in 1993.
In the Suncoast Resort production, Kim Crow and Jill Jackson have the chops and comedic timing to pull off this material, which also demands versatility and physical endurance.
Crow deftly directs herself and Jackson in multiple male and female roles that include drunken Southerners, eager children, senior citizens and a disgruntled streetwalker named Candida. The two morph smoothly through the characters and scenarios with little to aid the onstage transitions, save wigs or minor costume pieces, some catchy cover music and lighting changes.
After a tentative start in Act 1, the pair picked up steam, clicking especially in their roles as Sylvia and Madeline, bewildered widows on a field trip with a college gender studies class, attempting to navigate feminist art and a vegan lunch.
Another high point is a scene in a honky-tonk with Jackson playing Hank, a barely coherent inebriate, and Crow as Karen Sue, a middle-aged barfly who flirts dispassionately with Hank, bathed in the neon glow of a Budweiser beer sign. Laughs aside, the pain and hopelessness of the two characters, peeking out as the two discussed leftover chili, "sissy drinks" and marriage, was poignant.
Though Parallel Lives has plenty of pointed social commentary, it seems more sweetly nostalgic than edgy, as it was considered nearly 20 years ago. And although there's adult content here, poking fun at Catholicism, feminism, adolescent angst, dysfunctional families and human sexuality seems pretty tame fare these days.
This production is a good fit for the intimate theater space at the Suncoast Resort. Trevor Keller's utilitarian set and Richard Traylor's subtle lighting design keep the focus where it should be, on the actors.
Parallel Lives is Gypsy Productions' fourth offering of its first season at the Suncoast Resort, and it has broader audience appeal than the company's other, mostly gay-themed productions. Now all it needs is an audience.
|New Company's `Parallel' Lives In The Past
By JOANNE MILANI firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Mar 30, 2004
ST. PETERSBURG - Seeing ``Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show,'' presented by newly formed Gypsy Productions Inc., is a little like entering a rickety time machine that whisks you to the 1980s.
Written and first performed by comic actresses Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, the lineup of funny sketches on the world order after women's lib was an award-winning off-Broadway hit.
For good reason. Their wildly irreverent sketches address everything from menstruation to the pangs of childbirth to women's issues in a post-Betty Friedan universe.
This production is from a company taking up the mantle of the defunct Central Stage in aiming to present ``alternative-lifestyle productions,'' Gypsy's mission statement says.
Clearly, that goal does not limit its choices to gay themes, as the selection of this play attests.
Its other goal is quality, as is evidenced by casting of Kim Crow, a fine actress seen in many regional productions, as Kathy. Jill Jackson, a talented performer from California, is Mo.
In case you were born too recently, Friedan is the fireball who ignited the women's liberation revolution. Unfortunately, this production of Najimy and Gaffney's script has not weathered the decades very well.
Maybe it's because theater veteran Crow had the double duty of directing and performing. Maybe it's because the lighting and music cues were off-sync Friday. Maybe it's because there were only a half-dozen patrons in the theater.
Whatever the reason, the show never seemed to catch fire, in spite of the impressive efforts of the versatile Crow, who could be devastatingly funny as a clueless high school jock, and Jackson, who is capable of capturing your heart in some of her solo scenes.
When Kathy and Mo describe themselves as ``Betty and Wilma without Fred and Barney,'' you feel as if you are experiencing a decades- long jet lag.
Folks too young to remember Helen Reddy, Sonny and Cher and Mork and Mindy will find the humor - and the issues - as retro as a vintage consignment shop.
Reporter Joanne Milani can be reached at (813) 259-7569.