AfterTaste, at Frankie J's MethaDome Theatre. The seedy little second-floor room reminded me of a burlesque hall I once--uh--knew in Times Square. But the show itself lacked the subtlety one might expect from a 42nd Street stripper. Maybe it was opening-night jitters, but this three-man sketch-comedy team was so far over the top so much of the time it wasn't funny. It really wasn't.
Not that a more delicate tone would solve everything. Too many of the 17 scenes in this revue are either way too obvious or baroque to the point of unintelligibility. On the obvious side are pieces involving the Christian Creationist Players, the Catholic Church reimagined as a corporate behemoth a la Bank One, and some old codgers who resent the homosexualization of words like "gay" and "queer." A potentially sweet bit in which we meet Charlie Brown as a middle-aged failure dies for lack of imaginative development, as does a potentially dangerous bit in which Zacarias Moussaoui gets called on the carpet by his al Qaeda boss. (Rather than confront the ugly risks inherent in this premise, AfterTaste has Moussaoui claiming that he missed a meeting because his camel ran out of water. Unforgivable.) The baroque pieces include a look at the troupe's creative process, complete with disembodied voices.
But even great material would suffer given the undifferentiated hysteria exhibited on opening night. Gene Van Dyke in particular could've used something potent to quiet his incessant mugging.