Lost in the hullabaloo over Shopping and Fucking (hullabaloo as in walk-outs and notoriety attached to the name and graphic depictions of sex and violence on stage) is that the Monkey Wrench Collective is producing another show at the same time: Caryl Churchill's Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?
Churchill, one of the most unapologetic left-leaning playwrights in modern drama, has been writing plays for nearly 40 years. And while she's garnered a great deal of success, such as two Obie-Awards for Cloud Nine, her 1979 gender-tweaking play about the effects of Imperialism on colonized nations, and Top Girls, her 1982 feminist play, her deeply political and frequently avant-garde material has prevented her from gaining a huge audience.
Which is a perfect reason for the Monkey Wrenchers, by far the most political and uncompromising theater in Orange County, to stage this 2006 play. It's a deceptive work based on the title and the set-up: It's a two-character play involving homosexual lovers in a deeply dysfunctional relationship. But the 45-minute play is actually an allegory for for the United Kingdom's political relationship with the United States, a relationship, Churchill claims, is one of complete subservience.
No less an authority than Ben Brantley, lead drama critic for something called The New York Times, wrote in his 2008 review of the play's debut American production at the Public Theater, that on paper, the "45-minute allegory about the seduction of Britain by the United States--presented as gay men locked in a seriously sick love affair--reads as a minor work from a major playwright, little more than a political poison-pen letter. But with Ms. Churchill, one of the most inventive and incisive dramatists of her generation, even rabid venting takes the form of a brave, canny exploration of theatrical language that comes to startling life on the stage. Her natural talent can't help asserting itself, so that even when she's uncontrollably angry, she's beautiful."
And it's all presented in staccato bursts of dialogue. Few lines between Sam, called "A Country" in the script notes, and Jack, referred to as "A Man," contain more than one sentence with a handful of words.
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And now for something completely different:
This is the opening weekend for a show that is bound to pack 'em in like sardines: The Maverick Theater's production of Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical. The 2001 musical is indeed based on the 1978 porno of the same name, but don't get your hopes up too high: there are no sex scenes or nudity in the musical, as musical numbers take the place of the really interesting parts of the film's plot.
Drunk Enough to Say I Love You at the Monkey Wrench Collective, 204 N.Harbor Blvd., Fullerton (800) 838-3006. monkeywrenchcollective.org. Sat., 9 p.m. Sun., 5 p.m. Thru Dec. 5. $10.
Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical at the Maverick Theater, 110 E. Walnut Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-7070.www.mavericktheater.com.Opens Fri. Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Thru Nov. 21. $10-$20.