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Dynasty Handbag's new show showcases the performer's abilities, but does not cohere into a meaningful whole.

Dynasty Handbag
(Photo courtesy of Dixon Place)
Dynasty Handbag, the bizarre alter ego of writer/performer Jibz Cameron, has the appearance of a Kabuki performer on crack. Her heavily made-up face contorts into seemingly impossible shapes of fierce expressiveness and her movements are often stylized, occasionally hilarious, and sometimes just plain weird. Her new show, VERTititGO, part of Dixon Place's HOT Festival of queer performance, showcases the performer's abilities, but unfortunately does not cohere into a meaningful whole.

The solo piece involves a detective, but that's where the similarity between this show and Alfred Hitchcock's film, Vertigo, end. In VERTititGO, a mysterious woman named Veronica (all roles are played by Dynasty Handbag using a combination of voice-over and live dialogue), hires a rather ineffectual private dick to locate a missing woman.

The detective goes about his search in a roundabout fashion, along the way encountering a variety of individuals including a hippie psychic, a waitress with big dreams, and a flower who moonlights as a boxer. Dynasty Handbag imbues these characters with a dynamic energy that makes them initially entertaining, but as the individual bits drag on, they become more wearisome.

The performer transforms into her different roles in full view of the audience, putting on clothes that suggest a new persona without ever letting you forget that each one is still always Dynasty Handbag. The costumes, designed by Hayden Dunham, have a makeshift, gutter fabulous look to them. For example, a cut up turtleneck is used to indicate the flower's attributes.

While the detective is at the center of the story, all of his lines are delivered via voice-over, making it harder to identify with him. The attempt to synch up the pre-recorded dialogue with the live action also creates moments when Dynasty Handbag either says a line too late, or ends up filling time waiting for the next statement from the detective.

The main problem, however, is that the show does not have a very satisfying dramatic arc. There's a little bit of a payoff once Veronica's true plans are revealed, but not enough of one. The show itself runs just under an hour, and could be fleshed out more to give it some substance in addition to style.

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