Written and Directed by Brad T. Gottfred
Produced by Bleeping Crazy Entertainment
Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 6.21.15
Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 6.16.15
Tunisia Hardison and Baxter Defy in Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes. Photo by Trevor Santos.
BOTTOM LINE: This very superficial examination of dysfunctional coupledom is light on insight but heavy on the laughs.
The battle of the sexes is at the heart of the aptly titled Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes. As the title would imply, the show operates around the premise that women are over-emotional and quick to become angry as a result of the selfish behavior men exhibit as they follow their sexual whims above all else. Clearly, if you’re looking for a complex examination into the pains of romantic and sexual entanglements you’ve come to the wrong place. Here women and men are limited to the one dimensional stereotypes perpetuated by sitcoms and reality shows.
The play begins with a social circle of heterosexual couples each making plans to attend a brunch at their friend Nicole's (Mandy Henderson) house. Nicole is meeting her online paramour, Dylan (Devlin Borra), in the flesh for the first time this morning and has made the unbelievably idiotic decision to get to know him at a brunch with all of her friends. After engaging in a few bouts of drunken Skype sex, Nicole has already decided that she and Dylan have a connection and he just might be her soul mate. She even contemplates taping their first meeting so that she can play it for their future grandchildren.
Each of the play’s couples is extremely dysfunctional and on the brink of breaking up. In the opening moments, Mandy (JJ Nolan) surprises her sleeping on-and-off boyfriend Benny (John Weselcouch) by jumping on him and demanding to know if he has slept with any other women. Their dramatic fighting soon turns seductive as Mandy whispers in a baby voice to his penis and straddles him.
Unfortunately, Nicole’s plans do not go so well as upon sight, Dylan decides that he has no chemistry with her and instead sets his sights on her demanding bitch of a sister, Bella (Christine Donlon), talking himself into ignoring how rude it is to make a pass at the sister of a girl you just rejected. Bella, meanwhile, is about to be proposed to by the much older Reynold (Blake Boyd, also a co-producer who rousingly introduces each act of the play). Bella seems to only want to be with Reynold for his money and prestige and Reynold seems to only want to be with Bella for the hot sex. He shows the other male characters the engagement ring he plans on proposing with, explaining his motivation for marrying her by stating that she was the only woman who kept him “hard for two years.” Clearly in this world, sexual relationships only cause insanity and pain, but we keep creating new ones if only for the enjoyment of sexual gratification.
Interjecting the play’s main story line is a side plot with Hillary (Tunisia Hardison) and George (Baxter Defy), a couple from the social circle who get too distracted by their fighting while driving to ever make it to the brunch. They are also an on-again-off-again couple, and George is enraged to find out that after only being broken up for two days, Hillary has already used his “special oils” to be intimate with another man. Defy’s over the top acting helps maximize the laugh potential of each of his lines.
Despite the many problems exhibited by each character, we never empathize or identify with them, partly because each character is as limited and one-dimensional as a character in a sitcom or an SNL skit. The bad behavior and lack of dimension is somewhat augmented by the inclusion of the story of Phoenix (Nikki McKenzie) and Tim (Justin Sintic), a less dysfunctional couple who are splitting up due to Phoenix leaving town to pursue her dream of being a children’s book author. The cast acts out an allegorical tale from her children’s story called “Apples and Oranges” in which the two fruits attempt to “share their juices” but find it easier to only stay with their own kind. While playwright Gottfred was right to add a bit of sincerity and sanity to the play, the sentimentality of the piece doesn’t fit with the rest of the production and only slows down the momentum.
Despite the lack of dimension, each actor succeeds in giving a humorous performance, and each joke and wise crack is well delivered. The storyline linking all of the disastrous outcomes together feels a bit tenuous at times, but the sheer energy of the performers helps to distract from this.
Women are Crazy Because Men are A**holes may certainly not offer much in way of social commentary or insight (or even humor that feels particularly edgy in this no holds barred era), but it does offer a rousing energy that seemed to engage the entire audience (to the extreme extent that some audience members even started yelling advice at the characters). Joke-wise, the bawdy humor has far more hits than misses. So if you’re looking for an entertaining outing with your friends (particularly if any of them are fresh out of their own dysfunctional coupling) then this is the show for you.
(Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes plays at The Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, through June 21, 2015. Remaining performances are Thursday at 8, Friday at 8, Saturday at 5 and 8, and Sunday at 2 and 5. Tickets are $59.69-$89.69 and are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/9983022 or by calling 866-811-4111.)