Posted in Indianapolis theater: reviews

“Porno Stars at Home” at Theatre on the Square

2.5 stars

Theatre on the Square’s current offering, Porno Stars at Home, isn’t as juicy as you might think given the title. By today’s standards, the show, which premiered in 1976, is comparatively tame.

Under the direction of Bill Wilkison, the cast plays out the events of one night when five porn actors and actresses gather to celebrate their matriarch’s birthday. Fueled by alcohol (and what is either a massive dose of coke or a debilitating case of ADD for one actress), drama, drama, and more drama ensue. The script is a sequence of non-sequiturs featuring neck-wrenching mood swings.

Leading the cast is Lisa Marie Smith as Georgia, the maudlin-to-the-max birthday “girl.” Think Effie in Hunger Games. Grating as her character may be, Smith allows Georgia moments vulnerability. Smith is comfortable in Georgia’s skin, even when Georgia feels her most broken—and everyone in that apartment is broken to some extent. Frankie Bolda as Norma Jean is the porn version of the Energizer Bunny, exhibiting the energy of a toddler on Red Bull. Jay Hemphill as Montgomery passes for the closest to normal in the gathering, and Miranda Nehrig as Uta is the most pedestrian.

Opening night felt jerky and unsure. The characters didn’t come across as having been coworkers for years, which, when combined with copious amounts of alcohol, would lend them a more relaxed attitude. Lines were often hesitant, and body language was often clumsy. Strangely, the high point of hilarity came when Todd Kenworthy, as Barry, seemed to go off-script for what I suspect was an improvised description of a personal body-function issue. He had not only the audience roaring with laughter but also the two fellow performers on stage, who had to fight to keep from breaking character, which made the situation even funnier. Given his history with improv and success with the scene, maybe more of this would improve the show.

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freelance editor and writer

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