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Stage Door: "Teenage Dick" and "Boylesque Bullfight"

Stage Door is our intermittent theater column because there is more to live than cinema and also because cinema and the stage frequently interact...

Teenage Dick (Public Theater)
This very cheekily titled show -- so embarrassing to say or type! -- is actually Shakespearean. (What isn't when it comes to theater? We'd love playwrights and directors to leave Shakespeare behind for a few years and discover vast untapped realms, but they're all Bard addicts who perpetually need a fix.) If you're going to riff on the Bard, please have as much fun with it as Teenage Dick does! This comic interpretation of Richard III recast the disabled king as a teenager in hate with his boring high school and the jock star and Christian activist classmates he aims to take down via an upcoming student election...

Though the cast is uneven and the show fumbles a bit near the climax when it has trouble marrying it's comic tone to the tragedy of Richard III, it's often very funny. Best in show are the two disabled actors. Gregg Mozgala manages to endear even in Richard's most despicable moments, with inspired fourth-wall breaking business and a conspiratorial spirit like you're in it together. Shannon DeVido who plays his sort-of friend Buck has great timing, and maneuvers her wheelchair for comic effect as expressively as any abled actors can use their limbs to goose big laughs.


Ferdinand (Ryan Redmond) would rather just smell the flowers than fight

Boylesque Bullfight (Theater XIV in Brooklyn)
Finally, if neither last year's Oscar-nominated cartoon Ferdinand nor the Oscar winning Disney short of the same story about the bull who just wanted to smell flowers, was queer enough in your eyes*, here's just the show for you! Company XIV's gorgeously inventive show, part burlesque, part vaudeville, part dancing/singing spectacle, queerly interprets the classic story for titillation and beauty. Most of the burlesque shows I've seen in NYC have been quite low rent even if they were inventive or well-performed but Company XIV is next level. They have a huge lux theater in Bushwick that's a very well-designed space with comfortable seats and great eyelines. The troupe is alarming flexible, and obviously trained and gifted (one of the men even did a ballet number in toe shoes!), and the costume design is incredible (and incredibly skimpy). My favorite bit of costuming was a golden bull-mask that I only realized was composed of two giant high-heeled shoes right as it came off.

It all looks so expensive and the show is so generously entertaining -- they even have solo numbers during intermission! -- that you can almost forgive the drink prices at the bar!

P.S. The show has gotten a lot of press -- and some celebrity fans -- so I do wonder if they'll extend but as of this moment it closes the weekend of July 29th.

* But in all seriousness the Disney short is really queer. And amazingly progressive about gender non-conformity for 1938!

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Reader Comments (2)

These both sound great. If only I could nip to New York to see them. This is one of the great aspects of this site that I never mention: that it gives such accessible insights into the American theatre scene. Invaluable commentary for those of us outside the US. Thanks!

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Just saw TEENAGE DICK this weekend and I agree. Such an inventive and hilarious adaptation. And that unexpected monologue towards the end was a stunner.

July 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

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