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PHOTOGRAPHS, REVIEWS & THE KITCHEN SINK
2012 “Parallel Lives” Nearly Naked Theatre
REVIEW of “Parallel Lives” by Kerry Lengel, The Arizona Republic/azcentral.com. Oct. 31, 2012.
Johanna Carlisle and Andréa Morales first showed off their one-two comic punch last year in The Naked Eye, playing mother-daughter socialites with a sense of entitlement the size of New England. Now, returning to Nearly Naked Theatre Company to star in Parallel Lives, they get to flex even more of their acting muscles in a collection of sketches that has them switching gears through a dozen-plus characters each.
Originally titled The Kathy and Mo Show after its creators, feminist comedians Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, the play is a “best of” anthology of their collaboration through the years. Even so, it’s as much of a mixed bag as any sketch show, mostly depending on how heavy-handedly the authors apply their political slant.
A typical bit is “Kris and Jeff,” a date night with a sorority girl and a frat rat that has Carlisle teeheeing like Betty Boop and Morales grunting like a Neanderthal. The familiar gender stereotypes make for easy laughs, but the authors’ obvious disdain for their characters ensures that the bit remains disposable.
The humor gets sharper when the writers cast their satirical eyes on their own end of the cultural spectrum, as in “Las Hermanas,” a hilarious send-up of radical-feminist performance art that puts the “tity” in “identity.” On the other hand, comedy takes a backseat in the least successful pieces, such as “Women’s Clinic,” a morality play about the abortion debate that will have even members of the pro-choice choir rolling their eyes.
Hands down, the best bit is “Disney Mom Group Therapy,” a support session for all the hapless cartoon females who get bumped off in the first 10 minutes — or before the opening credits — of classic Disney films. Here we meet Ariel Mermaid’s mom, Ethel, and Snow White’s, Betty (get it?), who laments her daughter’s fate: “A teenage girl and seven little men — you can’t find that kind of porn on the Internet!”
In addition to the silly wordplay, this sketch soars on the strength of Carlisle’s vocal impersonations, including a dead-on Ethel Merman, and Morales’ physical comedy, transforming from a lumbering Mrs. Jumbo to a dainty Coral Clownfish, floating ladylike in an invisible ocean.
“Parallel Lives” may be uneven, but these two talents definitely succeed in making it “The Drea and Joho Show.”