Wednesday, November 28, 2001

'True Love' born in gas station

by Donald Lyons

It's passion in a gas station, lust in a lube shop, getting off in a garage. It's the spirit of the Velvet Underground in a plot of Euripides.

"True Love" by Charles L. Mee is a mad, updated, Jerry Springer-ized version of Euripides' "Hippolytus."

That's the play where the horny queen Phaedra takes advantage of her husband's absence to seduce her stepson Hippolytus. Mee takes the tale, wrings its neck and sets it in a garage.

Four musicians are the core of an onstage rock band, and the cast fronts a song when the mood seizes them.

There's mechanic Phil (an excellent, just-the-right-spirit Dallas Roberts, so good in "Nocturne"), mechanic Jim (a superb Christopher McCann), Shirley (a fine, neurotic Laura Esterman) and Bonnie (a funny Jayne Houdyshell).

And of course, a drag queen who does folks' hair.

Then there are the central characters. The wife, Polly, is the beautiful blonde Laurie Williams in a sexy blue shift. She slouches about and ponders her sex life and plays with a chicken and sings.

There's Edward, her 13-year-old stepson, who skates around and tells us sex is a big bore and later finds himself, unbored, in the car with his stepmother. Jeremiah Miller gives an intelligent, sensual performance.

Now, Mee is no Euripides. He can't write seriously - all the talky stuff with the returning husband is a bore.

But this is an exciting piece of theater, thanks largely to that spunky cast and to the outrageously in-your-face direction of Daniel Fish and the sly musical direction of Crispin Cioe.

And yes, to Mee.