“The Play About the Naked Guy” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ February 18, 2010


Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ

I haven’t laughed as hard as I did at Stray Cat Theatre’s “The Play About the Naked Guy” in a long time. But, let me start this review with a warning. This very funny play will appeal to a select audience that enjoys sexual innuendo jokes and slurs.

Stray Cat states in production publicity that “sex sells, but at what price?” The David Bell comedy focuses on the Integrity Players, an off-off-Broadway theater troupe that produces esoteric plays that attract small audiences.

Without a rich, but controlling mother of a company player, they would be in heavy debt. Because of Mrs. Anderson’s generous checks, Dan and Amanda, husband/wife producers, are able to keep their theater afloat and pay Harold, the company’s third actor. But Mrs. Anderson wants her daughter back and withdraws support. Then sleazy producer Eddie turns up. He needs a theater to produce his next male sex farce featuring hulky porn star, Kit. If the democratically run Integrity Players compromise their lofty artistic mission, Eddie will stage a meaningless sex comedy that will make money and save the theater. Staging the shamelessly wacky play is quite a wild ride but the merriment and laughs never stop.

Stray Cat Theatre turned to Nearly Naked Theatre artistic director Damon Dering to helm this riotous farce. Dering is a master at this kind of uninhibited theater. His staging milks every bit of humor from the script and he uses a myriad of sexual gimmicks to keep things lively, bright, and funny. Dering’s superb cast knows how to squeeze every bit of comedic punch from the inane dialogue and they go just far enough to make every absurdity funny. On top of basic comic skills, this cast is a master of slapstick timing. They also make weird faces at just the right moments to add to the mayhem.

Johanna Carlisle delivers a gem of a performance as Mrs. Anderson who proves amazingly adept at appreciating sex farce. Carlisle tromps around in outrageous spike heels and over-the-top stuffy get ups to make this challenging rich lady a hoot.

Doug Loynd makes Eddie a swishy delight as are his faggy costumer Edonis played by Michael Thompson and his effete set designer T. Scott played by Samuel E. Wilkes. Matthew R. Harris is unrighteous and hides a dark secret as Harold and Marc Rambeau plays Kit with dry flippancy.  

“The Play About the Naked Guy” may not be great theater but for knockabout fun, it can’t be beat. It plays through February 27. For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-820-8022 or go online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: B