BOTTOM LINE: Terms of Dismemberment is a musical comedy about selling organs that is, ironically, missing something.
Terms of Dismemberment is a funny idea — a hard-on-her-luck, past-her-prime, former small town beauty queen is recently widowed, deep in debt, and has to sell her daughter part by part to make ends meet. This conceit leads to the hilarity of a corpse un-living in the living room, a glory days dress saved and worn, and exceptional performances.
The highlight of Terms of Dismemberment are the stellar performances by the ensemble. Mary Jo Mecca kills as the downtrodden, white-trash queen Queenie. Kevin T. Collins has everything an odd character actor needs (a great look and impeccable timing), and he knows how to use them. Alex Michaels narrates with sass and style, and Laurie Veldheer is a perfect ingénue. But Ashley Campana steals the show with her eleventh-hour cattle-calling performance. You have to see it to believe the Drop Dead Gorgeous-style hilarity.
The show doesn't live up to its actors, though. Terms of Dismemberment presents nothing new in style, humor, or theme. It's like so many dark musical comedies without improving on the form. There are a few catchy numbers like "I Like You" but most of the music is mundane. Also the slap-dash, workshop-style design lacks cohesion. Most of the jokes are cheap, and it is unclear whether the show gives homage to other musicals or is just derivative.
Terms of Dismemberment is a better idea than a show, but it's not without its humor. If you like dark comedy, satire, and meta-theatrical jokes, this musical comedy might be for you.
(Terms of Dismemberment: A Musical with Heart…and Other Body Parts plays at Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street between Bleecker and Hudson, through August 28th. Remaining performances are Monday 8/23 at 8:45pm, Friday 8/27 at 7pm, and Saturday 8/28 at 2:30pm. For more information visit www.termsofdismemberment.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue . There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)