Don't Cha Know!, at Cafe Voltaire. Unfortunately for David Parris, I've relinquished my habit of giving any production the benefit of the doubt. I suppose if I looked very hard I could find something encouraging to say about his one-man show, but trying to find the gold in this piece of dross is just a waste of time. I only have 250 words, and none of them this time are good.
Don't Cha Know!, written and performed by Parris himself and directed by Andrew Baker, includes just about everything irritating in a one-man show: it's self-glorifying, it's calculated, it's disingenuous and at the same time self-indulgent. Parris's toothpaste-perfect smile and larger-than-life good looks might be advantages in a large-scale musical, but when he breaks into song in the intimate setting of Cafe Voltaire his excellent bass voice is wasted. In these seven vignettes, two of which are character sketches, he comes across as plastic: we have no doubt that the man before us spinning semiautobiographical yarns about his Russian friends, his Catholic upbringing, and his younger brother's death is an actor first and foremost. And for a one-man show to work we have to see the person. Ultimately Don't Cha Know! lacks honesty--it's as though Parris were auditioning for a role in a rather dull play about his life instead of sharing that life with the audience.
And we were not amused by his insensitive, patronizing portrayal of an aging southern belle, who claims that a hysterectomy is just the thing to make your orgasms more intense.