The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
Subscribe
| more

Photo Gallery

Review – “Sin, Sex & the CIA” at Cloverdale Performing Arts – by Harry Duke

thumb_2_Robert-Bauer-600.jpg

Review – “Sin, Sex & the CIA” at Cloverdale Performing Arts – by Harry Duke

by Harry Duke

Sin, Sex & the CIA (now playing at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center) may well be the single stupidest script ever written for the stage. I may have to qualify that as I’ve yet to see any other of the other plays by Michael Parker and sometimes co-writer wife Susan, but with such titles as The Amorous Ambassador, The Sensual Senator, There’s a Burglar in My Bed, and Never Kiss a Naughty Nanny, I suspect they are of the same caliber. The Parkers make no excuses for their style of writing. They even have a slogan – yes, these writers have a slogan - “No hidden messages, no profound thoughts, just naughty but nice fun & laughter” Translation – Get ready to see something stupid!

How stupid? Well, let’s look at the cast of characters. You have an inept CIA security agent (Nicholas Augusta) masquerading as a narcoleptic chef at a Virginia lodge where some critical trade negotiations are to be held between a sex-starved State Department undersecretary (Angela Squire) and an unknown representative of the oil-rich “Chagos Islands”. There’s an ex-marine caretaker (Thomas Gibson) who, when he’s not fending off the sex-starved bureaucrat, is mocking the incompetent agent. Stopping by the lodge (because their car broke down, of course) is a sex-obsessed southern preacher (Robert Bauer) and his tee totaling secretary (Dawn Gibson). Throw in a neighbor (Tory Jason Rotlisberger) and a park ranger (Crystal Amber Nezgoda), add the element of OPEC agents seeking to sabotage the meeting, create circumstances that force everyone to spend the night at the lodge, ensure there are plenty of doors to be slammed and you have all the ingredients of a farce.

Angels Squire, Thomas Gibson, Robert Robert BauerAngels Squire, Thomas Gibson, Robert Robert Bauer

Ingredients, however, don’t make the cake. The danger is in following the Parkers’ recipe. To have any chance of mounting a successful (?) production of this idiocy, you need two things. You have to have a director and cast who know just how stupid a show this is and you have to have an audience that is absolutely willing to check its brain at the door.

I get the sense that director Jeremy Boucher and his cast knew exactly the level of writing with which they were dealing and decided to take the crapfest they were handed and make something of it. Amazingly, they have. They took a poorly written script consisting of innumerable old, overused jokes, bad puns, stock, cartoonish characters and hackneyed situations and had the audience at the preview I attended laughing. I give complete credit for this to Boucher and his cast, particularly for the bits of physical humor laced throughout the show. The timing of the “door slamming” conclusion in particular was well executed.

Look, I know this is a farce, but there’s good farce and bad farce. Sin, Sex & the CIA is a terrible farce with sub-par writing that doesn’t even reach the heights of the worst episode of Three’s Company.  The funniest thing written by the Parkers can be found on their website under the heading “Our Philosophy of Farce”:

“Classic farce’s humor should be clever and subtle, never total slapstick… a good farce has enough content in its plot, its characters, its circumstances, its sight gags and its one-liners, that it does not need any further help.”

Exactly.  Since Sin, Sex & the CIA is absent everything required of a good farce, it needed all the help it could get and, thankfully, it got that help from its director and cast. When I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the ineptness of the writing, I was admiring the on-stage talent for their skills with physical humor and for rising above their terribly written roles. They made it far easier to laugh with them than the script would ever make you think possible.

But it still helps to check your brain at the door.

Sin, Sex & the CIA

Fri/Sat @ 7:30pm, Sun @ 2pm through October 18

Cloverdale Performing Arts Center
209 N. Cloverdale Blvd
Cloverdale, CA 95425
(707) 894-2214

www.cloverdaleperformingarts.com                                                   

Photo Credit – John Gobeille

Theater reviews by Harry Duke