She Stoops to Comedy

SF Playhouse’s She Stoops to Comedy, written by David Greenspan and directed by Mark Rucker, is best summed up in the playwright’s own words as a “pseudo documentary about reality in the theater”. Greenspan playfully tackles Shakespeare and Beckett in his not so scrambled exposition of a work in progress. Along the way, he highlights a full spectrum of sexual relationships, gay, lesbian and heterosexual, similarly in progress, in a gender-bending translation of Shakespearean cross-dressing and existential isolation.

This interior of an interior drama takes us into the writer’s development of the play, where we witness sporadic character and plot changes with each keystroke, leading us into a hairball, it would seem. In fact, these seemingly sporadic changes layer the work with a cohesive synchronicity, as piano keys being stroked or dominoes falling. Despite the shifting times, Greenspan’s world is a linear world. It’s also a real world, prismatic as it is, reflecting the human condition

Bill English’s set opens onto a large bed center stage, opulent in purple, on a black stage. The right wing off stage is open and is Alexandra Page’s (Liam Vincent) dressing room. Alexandra is a lesbian actress who has just broken up with Alison Rose (Sally Clawson), also an actress. Alexandra has decided to audition for the part of Orlando in As You Like It to secretly play across Alison and has gone into serious reverse drag mode to get the part. The lights come up on Alexandra lamenting her breakup and exposing her plot to her friend Kay Fein (Amy Resnick), a lesbian buddy who just returned from an archeological expedition.

Alexandra arrives at the audition with filmmaker Hal Stewart (Cole Alexander Smith) and his assistant Eve Addaman (Carly Cioffi). Other members of the entourage and cast include Simon Lanquish (Scott Capurro), Alison and Jayne Summerhouse (Amy Resnick). Through the constant shifting of details, the relationships between Alexandra (in drag) and Alison, Kay and Jayne, Alexandra (in drag) and Simon, and Hal and Eve unfold. The implications of marriage in all its varying forms are carefully dissected, redrawn and repositioned in what outwardly appears to be a disjointed comedic farce in which reality lurks heavy.

The actors are exceptional in their double-bodied ranges, from Liam Vincent’s portrayal of a lesbian in drag, to Sally Clawson’s attraction to a heterosexual, to Scott Capurro’s gay pick up of Alexandra (in drag) to Amy Resnick’s dual relationship with herself as Kay Fein and Jayne Summerhouse, to the ongoing heterosexual affair between Hal and Eve. Greenspan’s monologues for Simon and Kay bring spellbinding tour de force performances by Capurro, reflecting on the fundamental insecurity of his homosexuality, and Resnick, in her separate portrayals of herself, sexually relishing a good fight.

She Stoops to Comedy plays Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 3 p.m. through January 9, 2010, at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter Street (upstairs), San Francisco. Tickets are available by telephone at (415) 677-9596 and online at www.sfplayhouse.org.