Flora (Tali Custer) is so sweet when she shows up at the door of Willard (Jeffrey Coyne) selling White Sexy Face Toothpaste that it’s easy to see why he can’t resist her. Just look at her. So peppy. So bright. So nubile. Why, she’s the exact kind of 14 year old a man could find planted smack in the middle of a Dateline sting operation. But Willard didn’t even have to fall for that. No – Flora came to his door. With mmmmm – toothpaste. Bitchin’ Blueberry. A whole suitcase full. No cameras. No reporters. Just a gal with a desire to sell him the best gosh darn toothpaste there is, so that she can win the contest and go to the Virgin Islands. And of course Willard will help her. He is, after all, A Kind Kind Man.
What’s such a young girl doing selling toothpaste door to door? Well, as Flora says, White Sexy Face only hires young girls so that’s how she got there. How she landed on Willard’s doorstep . . . well, Willard might consider that divine intervention. She’s like an under-aged call girl, with all the right moves. She’s just this side of flirty, passing it off as exuberance (yes, about toothpaste and oral hygiene) and carries odd props in her suitcase. Do you want her to be a blond? On goes the wig. Would you rather call her Laura instead of Flora? No problem. Hell, she’ll even brush her teeth for you, vigorously moving her hand up and down till she produces a satisfyingly frothy white foam which drips down her chin. And after she’s done she . . . spits. Come on, let’s not be naive. I’m sure there’s a fetish video out there that mimics this scene exactly.
After brushing together Willard and Flora do a little more bonding; Flora talks about her insecurities, about not fitting in, about the fear of dying having never been loved. Willard admits to feeling “old and sad” but tells the young girl how he finds her radiant “like Christmas everyday”.
A little Red Riding Hood theme gets whipped in (in case you somehow missed the overt symbolism) vis-à-vis a wolf’s head that’s prominently hung on the wall and then rhapsodized over by Willard. By the time Act One ends the whole thing takes a ghoulish turn.
Unfortunately Act Two veers off into another territory altogether. Willard’s obviously psycotic wife, Petunia (Victoria Guthrie), has tied up the child, and is grilling her like a finely aged Kobe steak. The play turns hyper absurdist and meanders almost too much for its own good; Petunia’s rambling speeches become so tangential and contain so many folds that it’s as if her script had been written on origami. The story builds and builds leading up to one big head-scratcher of a finale.
While ending it after the Act One black out might have left a number of plot holes and loose ends, it at least would have ended on a more chilling note. Unfortunately the second act does little to fill those plot holes or tie up those loose ends – though it does go a long way to explain why Willard is so terribly cornered by his dull little life.
A good beginning by playwright Catherine Weingarten, but definitely some work is needed before this Kind Kind Man is fully realized.
~~~A Kind Kind Man Written by Catherine Weingarten & Directed by Zach Stasz Presented by Stasz/Pruitt Productions Queens, NY
UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place) $14
Thu 2/24 @ 7:30pm, Sat 2/26 @ 2:30pm, Wed 3/2 @ 9pm, Fri 3/4 @ 6pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 7pm
FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.