As The Mascara Runs | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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As The Mascara Runs

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As the mascara runs, Bailiwick Repertory. Written and directed by Ed Basden, this late-night one-act in the Pride Performance Series aims for the success of Claudia Allen's Gays of Our Lives, a three-part soap-opera spoof that twists gay cliches to some bold purposes. But unfortunately, for all its warm intent and proselytizing, As the Mascara Runs merely wallows in 85 minutes of unreconstructed stereotypes. One pair of embattled male lovers (swishy and studly) are computer-matched with a female pair (ditzy and butch). A homophobic, Valium-popping Republican matron is transformed into an equally radical homophile. An equal-opportunity offender, the play also gives us Consuelo, a blackmailing Latina dyke dominatrix-fascist. Played by a man, this mutation manages to insult everyone. (Torture victims and double amputees get spoofed, too.)

The formulas could be borne, however, if the writing weren't lame ("I'm so stupid--well, I am from the midwest"). No situation is left unspeechified, and the predictable plot is protracted way beyond its logical end. After Consuelo kidnaps one of the women and hauls her off to a banana republic, Basden attempts to indict American foreign policy, nudging and winking at his liberal audience. A long-winded curtain speech is followed by an epilogue in which both lesbians return, extremely pregnant. Though Katie Boerner is tossed around like the other actors in this ham salad, at least she has fun as a self-made belle who can't stop smiling.

--Lawrence Bommer

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