Three Guys in Drag Selling Their Stuff
This past weekend found me, once again, attending at a show at the new Paper Wing Fremont location where “Three Guys in Drag Selling Their Stuff” opened to raucous laughter. It’s hard to really capture an experience with the written word and then share it with a nameless faceless reader (that would be you), especially when so much of what you experienced can be truly personal. Such was the case when Jay Devine, Phil Livernois, and Jody Gilmore (pulling double duty as director) hit the stage in this gender bending comedy that pushes the envelope and always aims for the funny bone.
The title of the show is either really on the nose or just a little misleading- there ARE three guys in drag, but I'm not sure they're playing 3 Guys in Drag. It's debatable, I suppose- to me I thought they were playing high society women. I thought the casting of men just added to the comedy, but that the characters themselves were not in drag due to some "plumbing" comments. And the jokes come fast and hard when the lights come up as Diva stands in front of her yard with a number of personal belongings on display. She’s trying to raise money in order to purchase a Faberge Egg with which to inter the ashes of her Dentist husband. Lillian (Gilmore) is her best friend and likely the only person who will put up with Diva’s overbearing personality. Lillians’ verbal non-sequiturs left me in stitches throughout the show and it’s her advertised “free punch” that drives much of the narrative as the product is consumed by all three characters. Much of the play consists of verbal sparring, one liners, and a good deal of interaction with (the fourth wall) unseen attendees of the Yard Sale. Devine and Gilmore are quick, well oiled, perfectly timed machine with their quick back and forth dialogue. Paper Wings full immersion theatrical experience is on full display here as members of the audience become targets to the wit and wisdom of both Lillian and Diva.
Rounding out their little social group is the wheelchair-bound Tink (Livernois), the eldest, likely dying, almost comatose diabetic who is left in the incapable hands of her two friends. Tink speaks in monosyllables, struggles to be understood, and seems just a step away from hilarious oblivion. It’s this character who not only addresses the fourth wall, but breaks it absolutely when she pulls the audience into her head and speaks with clear precision about the precarious nature of her predicament and the eagerness in which she looks forward to an end of her suffering with the two nitwits taking care of her. As an audience member, Livernois’ performance reminded me of Harvey Korman in the Carol Burnett show as the actor struggled to maintain composure and played it up with comedic attempts to hide his face during some of the more physical aspects of the shows performance. It cracked me up, man. I loved it and it’s an experience you’re only really able to capture with a life show when the actors on the stage are having as much fun as the audience themselves.
One could easily see this as a long routine between some of the most impressive comedy teams throughout the ages. From the Three Stooges to the Marx Brothers, and so on so forth. The verbal sparring, the physical bits, and much of the pacing feels like those old zany comedies but the subject matter pushes an envelope and brings a modern sensibility to the material.
The show continues throughout the month of May, with a start time of 8:00 pm. Doors open at 7:30 and I definitely encourage anyone in need of a good laugh to attend, let loose, enjoy the atmosphere and other audience members, talk with the performers after the show, and, as always, support the local arts.