Psycho Beach Party : A camp comedy by Charles Busch
Stuff and nonsense. Goofy gags. Lunacy. “Psycho Beach Party” is Charles Busch’s tribute to famous beach bum surfer and hormone-crazed teen movies of the 1960’s such as Muscle Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo and Gidget, with passing homages to Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford and Slasher Films. This is relatively tame material for Busch, whose other plays include: Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Die, Mommie, Die! but is nevertheless loopy, manic fun. The seeming effortlessness of flawless comedy comes crashing down when we see shows that lack timing, chemistry, tone and expose how depressing forced humor can be. I am thrilled to say this definitely not the case with Psycho Beach Comedy. Busch has a knack for twisting and infecting insipid pop genres and so does director Bruce Coleman and this acrobatic, fizzy cast. They know how to achieve the perfect balance and harmony of deadpan delivery.
Chicklet feels worse than a frog caught in a cyclone. Nature has not yet delivered her female “assets”, Surfer Guru Kanaka refuses to school her and her pathological mother doesn’t want her to have anything to do with boys. Best friend Berdine feels abandoned by Chicklet, and Star Cat is having romance problems with bleach blonde douche Marvel Ann. Silver screen icon Bettina Barnes is AWOL from the studio that is stifling her creativity, and must find a beach shack to evade the media. Bummer City.
One of the myriad delights of Charles Busch is his uncanny ability to transform cringeworthy burlap to comic gold lame’. [“Are you incognito? No, I’m Presbyterian.”] Busch also excels at celebrating the foolishness of cheesy film culture while exploiting it. Who hasn’t wanted to see a kid kick Joan Crawford’s ass? A tomboy channel Tallulah Bankhead? [Or was it Bette Davis?] A surfer dope go into unbelievably graphic detail about the mysteries of boinking? All this and more await you if you’ll merely surrender to the sublime, ridiculous bliss of Psycho Beach Party. Playing now at Theatre 3 through July 10th, 2016.
Theatre 3 presents Psycho Beach Party playing June 23rd-July 10th, 2013. The Quadrangle, 2800 Routh, Street, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-871-3300. www.theatre3dallas.com