Reviewed by Jeanette Toomer
Presented by Little Artistic Value at the Bank Street Theater, 155 Bank St., NYC, Sept. 15-Oct. 1.
"My Ass; A Wacky Comedy Having Nothing To Do With My Bum," written and directed by Shon Little, tickled the funny bone, but did not live up to the hilariously irreverent expectations suggested by the title. Even the prudish could take a big sigh of relief, because "My Ass" was just a truncated way to pronounce "my class"—a class that an eclectic group of would-be actors take to hone their audition skills.
There were, however, some bright performances in this character-driven comedy. Paula Ehrenberg, Lindel Sandlin, and Joshua Koehn stood out for their physical antics and sublime portrayals of people with unresolved histories.
Ehrenberg was hysterically neurotic as Noel, who recklessly dumped the full load of her emotional baggage on her classmates. Sandlin was perfect as Angel, who could only overact, and relied heavily upon her in-your-face sexuality to win over an audience. Koehn was a persistent stutterer who eloquently presented a Shakespearean soliloquy at the play's end.
Little played an angry rebel, which worked best in his own voice, but then turned phony and insincere when he lapsed into a Keanu Reeves-type dialect. Tiffany D. Jones and Larry Giantonio worked well together as practiced actors and growing friends. Lee Blair was outrageous as the egomaniacal casting agent and instructor. Ashley Trimble, Thomas F. Walsh, Vickie Schmitt, Jodi Shilling, and Sarah Jane Wytko rounded out this ensemble cast.
Direction by Little allowed actors to reach for the truth beneath the ridiculous. Unfortunately, some acting short cuts, and the use of affected voices by a few, undercut the achievement of a unified whole.
Costumes by Melanie Wehrmacher underscored the differences between the characters. Cindy Shumsey designed appropriate lighting for the minimal set.