A middle-aged androgynous person rips off the diaper of someone’s grandmother in the kink-driven throes of a search for “a gift,” then later has that grandmother lick pudding (“I think,” s/he says) off her finger.
Now, re-read that.
Sure, this might seem like a cheap lede (and is), but it’s also one of the many vulgar, disgusting, grotesque yet somehow hilarious non-sequitor moments in the play The Underdeveloped and Overexposed Life and Death of Deena Domino. Written and performed solely by the NYC sketch comedy duo Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, which is composed of Leah Rudick and Katie Hartman, the play follows the life of Deena Domino, a child-star who spends most of the play trying to regain her stardom.
Overexposed opens at a casting for child stars, and most get thrown out for a variety of reasons: too tall! too ugly! too mix-race! Deena Domino, though, might have a chance. If only she can learn to be an asshole. So her mother does what any mother would if told her child can be a star so long as said child bites someone: she pours a pixie stick into the little girl’s eye and bites her.
Success is had. Domino blows up as a child star, but then she grows boobs, which makes her childish dance moves “hurt,” and she falls from popularity with the weight of a two-ton truck.
The story doesn’t matter much. It’s more a vehicle for sketch bits, though it does a good job of lacing the bits together. This isn’t one of those sum-of-its-parts-type production. The parts are the point. The lede here is an interlude that begins with a discussion of how Deena, 16 at the time, should probably just find a younger man (nine years old sounds right). It then segues into what might be the oddest thing you’ll find at Fringe Fest.
Since Rudick and Hartman play every part, the sketches are divided by video interludes while they change, a fact humorously acknowledged prior to the last act with a Victorian-esque narration setting up the final act (which is a bang … I’ll leave it to play-goers to get that one).
The play is hilarious. The crowd of 15 or so were in tears laughing, and it makes this particular reviewer wonder how these girls aren’t on the big stage. The jokes are often vulgar but also clever: take the moment where Domino’s mother tells the girl the song playing “always reminds me of you.” The song is Ben Folds Five’s “Brick.” What isn’t said, and what one needs some foreknowledge to get the joke is that that song is about an abortion.
These ladies aren’t afraid to let a joke fly over the heads of the crowd, nor are they thrown off by technical difficulties. In one scene, the sound of waves is supposed to play. It shows up about two minutes into the scene, leaving one of the actresses to say “There’s those waves I’ve been waiting for. You know what they say, ‘Sometimes you have the ocean, and sometimes the ocean has you.’” The technical difficulties might have actually heightened the show.
At times, some characters were too over-the-top. Not in vulgarity but in obviousness. Domino’s mother is a classic Southern hick. When she reads from her “sex porn” book, it’s hilarious. Other times she can grate the nerves more than pull laughs.
But that’s one character and small complaint that somehow includes a scene where Joan of Arc and Snooki from Jersey Shore hang out, and it makes sense. I’d have paid the $17 to see the video interludes, and those were just filler.
If you’re not easily offended and in the mood for a laugh, this is the play for you.
The Underdeveloped and Overexposed Life and Death of Deena Domino has just 5 performances, ending July 21, 2012 at, of all places, B103 at Mt Vernon United Methodist Church 900 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets