Surely the last thing the world needs now is a hate song like "She's a Dyke," the centerpiece of the generally odious, misogynistic musical Pandora's Box, at the Theatre at St. Clement's. Glen Roven bases his music and lyrics fairly faithfully on the 1995 French film Gazon Maudit (French Twist), but here the froth of farce falls flat amid a general meanness of spirit.
Pandora (Kerry Butler) is a bored housewife neglected by her philandering husband, Oliver (played with convincing sleaze by James Patrick Stuart). One evening, while he's out clubbing, a stranded motorist knocks on Pandora's door. While awaiting a tow, Mona (Deidre Goodwin), manages to unclog Pandora's drain -- as if the symbolism weren't sufficient, the staging is orgasmic -- while stirring suppressed romantic yearnings.
Both actresses are authentic enough to make the speed-seduction credible. What's disappointing is that there's little subsequent self-examination as to sexual preference on Pandora's part. She heads straight into narcissism ("Who's Still Got It?") and seems to view the new alliance mainly as a means to re-pique her husband's interest.
That she succeeds is partly due to the intercession of a whore with a heart of gold -- played by Luba Mason, who seizes the stage at the top of Act 2 and gives a knockout performance of the show's one memorable song, "One Great Love." With this cliché cameo, Mason manages to convey a fully rounded character deserving of our invested concern.
Goodwin pours her heart into Mona, too, but against insuperable odds; the script has an unbelievable act of betrayal up its sleeve, not to mention a production number ("Slap My Butt"), which seems to suggest that sexuality, whatever form it takes, is a matter of programmed responses. Ultimately, Pandora's Box could use a lot less wink-wink and a great deal more heart.
-- Sandy MacDonald