The play follows an aging Cuban woman named Cecy who has worked as an attendant in a restaurant's ladies' room for more than 30 years. As the action begins, she's on the verge of a breakdown: Tonight, her uptight boss will horde the candy that she bought out of her own pocket, a trashy Russian woman will steal from her tip bowl, and two Jersey girls will get her involved unwittingly in a narcotics ring. She finds solace in an overactive imagination as she dreams of a better world that lies beyond a mysterious, forbidden door.
Although the plot has plenty of potential for humor and social commentary, it is weighed down by familiarity and pretension. A biker chick enters to the accompaniment of the song "Bad to the Bone" and a French fashionista has an art-pop anthem courtesy of a group called Dimitri from Paris. Big-top music plays during one marathon cleaning session. Another scene is a hackneyed send-up of a holy roller with the ironic punch line that the born again Christian was once a Jew. (Have the writers never heard of Jews for Jesus?) Through it all, a percussionist plays an African drum in an avant-garde style that gives the scatological gags an air of self-importance.
These clichéd portrayals prime the audience to judge the characters by their stereotypes, and this move hurts the company's later attempts to humanize Cecy et al. It also tends to overshadow some of the stronger writing; stripped to its essentials, the script shows tremendous promise. In Wrestling Porcelain's best moments, Cecy -- whose name is pronounced like the Spanish words for "Yes, yes" -- is a moving personification of the immigrant experience in America. It's painful to watch this middle-aged woman's servitude to her 23-year-old supervisor but the show's garnish ultimately distracts from the meat of the story.