If you're in the mood for a sprightly comedy about sexual harassment and serial murder -- and who isn't? -- check out the TOSOS revival of The Secretaries, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The 1994 cult classic by the writer/performer collective The Five Lesbian Brothers is a wild and dangerous concoction of lesbian pulp fiction, campy non sequiturs, and misogynist stereotypes exploded from within. The current production, directed by Mark Finley, is also one of the sexier shows of the summer.
Elizabeth Whitney provides an energetic spin on the proverbial new kid on the block as her character, Patty, joins the secretarial pool at a lumber mill in Big Bone, Oregon, and discovers some disturbing initiation rituals along the way. Elizabeth A. Bell gives the sharpest performance of the evening as Peaches, a frumpy co-worker whose struggle to stay within the size 12 mandated by her unseen male boss is hilarious, touching, and disturbing all at once.
Finley successfully taps into the smart, aggressive spirit of the Lesbian Brothers -- an opening computer-age Greek Chorus scene is spot-on -- but he's less adept at keeping the pace and energy up throughout the production. Missed cues slow the action down and some of the actors overdo the noir aspect of their characters at the expense of something more unpredictable.
Still, all of the cast members -- which also include Virginia Baeta, Jamie Heinlein, and Karen Stanion -- have their moments. And, although the sound system at the Lortel is of low quality (par for the course at the Fringe), the uncredited individual who provided Finley's production with offstage sound effects -- particularly in a droll sequence involving a photocopier -- obviously had a lot of fun.
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