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Minneapolis Scene
by Steven LaVigne
December 2007
Theatre de La Jeune Lune

A recent article in the Star Tribune stated that, despite winning the 2005 Tony Award, Theatre de la Jeune Lune is hopelessly in debt. Artistic director Dominique Serrand is planning to go on, no matter what. However, rather than focus on fundraising, or pulling out some of their greatest hits from the past quarter century and reviving them, he and actor Steven Epp have written a new version of Pierre Marivaux’s “La Fausse Suivante.”

Now titled “The Deception,” and produced in collaboration with the La Jolla Playhouse, it’s supposed to be a delicious romp, wherein a suspicious heiress cross-dresses to learn the true nature of her fiancée. Learning that he’s really a two-timing, greedy cad, it’s one of those shows where you leave humming the sets, in this case a stage full of painted windows designed by David Coggins.

Epp and Serrand’s update features four-letter words, which distract from what could have been a delightful, fast-paced, sex comedy. The audience titters at the dirty language, but it merely makes the plot heavier.

While there are standard characters, such as the servant in need of work, a clueless countess, and the gay servant, Serrands’ direction lacks seriously needed magic. Actors meander around the stage, showing little faith in the material, and working way too hard to throw their Midwestern accents around these French-inspired phrases.

Had Serrand given it the stylized movement of Jean Cocteau, this could have been a great evening of theater. Only one scene, where the heiress (in male drag) and her fiancée simulate the missionary position throws any energy into this mess.

The house was heavily papered with free ticket holders on a mid-run Friday night, and that’s a nail in the coffin for any theater.

John Waters

Once known as the “Prince of Puke,” the gay filmmaker, John Waters, has gracefully aged into a respected cinema auteur. His solo evening, “This Filthy World” is a great way to learn more about Waters and his work with such performers as Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey in his early films, to Ricki Lake, Kathleen Turner, Patty Hearst, and Johnny Knoxville later on. Some of his films feature male actors in female drag.

Not only does Waters review his film career and answer questions, he discusses the changes in cinema since he began, using an 8mm camera, to his work in the studios. He also discusses his plans for a children’s film titled “Fruitcake.”

He shares his empathy with teachers, recommending that education wake up by placing words like “analingus” in a spelling lesson, or pretending to be on drugs to help a student. For more than two hours, Waters was onstage at the Fitzgerald, sharing his views and signing DVDs and books. Pleasant, funny and amicable, John Waters’ “This Filthy World” is a genuine pleasure that’s not to be missed.

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