Mark Setlock and Matthew Wilkas' satire on child beauty pageants is simply hilarious.
Setlock and Wilkas play "finesse" coaches Bobby and Bob, who are presenting their seminar titled "IS MY CHILD A PAGEANT QUEEN AND IF NOT, CAN I MAKE HER ONE?" Bobby gets right down to brass tacks: "Who here has a ugly child? Raise your hands!" As it turns out, though, lack of beauty is apparently no impediment to the all-important win, achievable through the not-so-ambiguously gay duo's plan of attack. Listed by the handy acronym "SHEIT" (pronounced just as you would imagine, with a country twang), it comprises Smile, Hair, Eyes, Illusion, "and, if all else fails, Talent."
The seminar is really just a framing device for the meat of the play, which sets Pinky (Harris), a pitbull of a career stage mom, against innocent newbie Marge (Deupree), as they -- or, rather, their four-year-old daughters -- proceed through a series of showdowns with escalating stakes. In a brilliant staging conceit, these prize offspring -- "Chevrolet" and "Puddle," respectively -- are represented by two empty spangled and tulle-skirted costumes, which the mothers are free to yank hither and yon, or toss aside like toys grown tiresome. It's a sight gag that never grows stale under Martha Banta's nimble direction.
To be fair, Marge -- who, mysteriously, goes by another name when talking on the phone with her bullying husband (Setlock, sans blond wig), who's in jail for spousal abuse -- is a lot more solicitous than her counterpart. She seems genuinely fond of her little beauty, and not just for the prize money that starts pouring in.
Pinky is an all-out monster, scheming on her leopard-skin chaise longue while demanding that her worshipful husband (Wilkas, again in the submissive role) massage her feet. But we even start to have a little sympathy for this heartless martinet once we see the pressure that her own mother (Duepree, tottering under the weight of a giant martini glass) brought to bear on her daughter. "This flashback is over," Pinky announces -- if only it were so easy.