Review: Dixie’s Tupperware Party (Royal George Theatre)

     
     

There’s a different use for a Tupperware decorating pump?!?

  
  

Dixies Tupperware Party - Chicago Royal George Theatre

  
Royal George Theatre presents
  
Dixie’s Tupperware Party
  
Written by Kris Andersson
Directed by Patrick Richwood
at Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through June 12  |  tickets: $44-$49   |  more info

Reviewed by K.D. Hopkins

There is nothing like a good old Southern woman with big hair and a big heart. I knew a few Dixie Longate types in my youth and still to this day. The authentic Dixie Longate is the hostess of Dixie’s Tupperware Party” at the Royal George Theatre. Ms. Dixie is a hoot making her way through the audience before the show passing out mints from her favorite Tupperware container. She warned me not to eat it until I had finished my glass of wine or it “will taste like ass”. Noted Ms. Dixie – I did not try the mint until well Dixies Tupperware Party - Chicago Royal George Theatre 2after the glass was drained.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is a real Tupperware party where one can purchase all varieties of the American classic food storage product. Dixie gives the history of the Tupperware party, starting with Brownie Wise over 65 years ago.

Now, Ms. Longate is a very special lady, and has what could be called chutzpah or as we like to say on the South Side “she’s got a real set of stones on her”. The bio reads that she left her kids in an Alabama trailer park to become a Tupperware superstar and never looked back. The great thing is that it is a true story for thousands of American women over the last half century. Dixie feeds her three children –Wynona, Dwayne, and Absorbine Jr. – by selling the practical and colorful plastic goods.

The show starts with Dixie filling a Tupperware tumbler (complete with the no-leak straw hole) with a healthy serving of Jack Daniels. Along with an actual catalog, the audience is given name tags in case one wakes up behind a dumpster at the truck stop and forgets their order. There are malapropisms, double entendres, and sight gags aplenty. Ms. Dixie’s persona is a tribute to all of the women who have ever cried in their cheap whiskey to a country song. I’m not talking contemporary country either. You have to reach back to the great ones: Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and the fabulous Dolly Parton. Few can wear the gingham and the lacquer hair spray with such panache as these ladies and Dixie Longate.

Dixie’s Tupperware Party is an interactive show wherein Ms. Dixie will single out a few audience members and take them through potentially embarrassing exchanges. One young woman became just “Lesbian”, which was said by Dixie with a pseudo-offended fundamentalist sneer. Ms. Dixie was aghast that the Lesbian team beat the nice Christian boys in the Tupperware Rimming contest. She also heard a lot of homo-sectionals cheering for the nice Christian boys. Hmmm?

There is an audience Q&A for special Tupperware questions and testimonial er…Tuppermonials for those of you with fond memories of America’s finest plastic ware. I was amazed to find out that Ms. Longate really is the number one sales person for Tupperware in the USA and Canada, and you can see why – she knows her stuff and is wickedly funny at the same time! There are raffles with really cute prizes of Tupperware miniatures, and for the winners of the Rimming Contest there is collapsible Tupperware. (In case you are wondering, rimming in Tupperware-speak is sealing the top on a bowl. Duh!)

If you are offended by drag, truck stop sex, or freaky uses for a whipped topping dispenser with five decorating tips, please come and bring a friend. Ms. Dixie is a gifted comedienne with a knack for improv and will make great use of your discomfort, much to the audience’s amusement. Now get your mind out of the truck stop, y’all, and get your fannies over to the Royal George Theatre!

  
  
Rating: ★★
     
     

Dixies Tupperware Party - Chicago Royal George Theatre 3

Dixie’s Tupperware Party has been extended through June 12th and is not to be missed. For tickets call the Royal George at 312-988-9000 or but tickets online at Ticketmaster

Performances continue Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8pm, Sundays at 3pm.

Visit dixiestupperwareparty.com for more details on Ms. Longate’s escapades. It’s great grown-up fun and empowerment for all the big-haired ladies of America.

     

Artists

Kris Andersson (Creator, Dixie); Patrick Richwood (director); Richard Winkler (lighting); Christopher K. Bond (sound); Steven C. Kemp (set)

     
     

REVIEW: Juliet (Theatre Y)

A powerful journey through faith and misery

 

Melissa Hawkins plays Juliet by Andras Visky

   
Theatre Y presents
  
Juliet: A Dialogue About Love
   
Written by Andras Visky
Directed by
Karin Coonrod
at
Royal George Studio, 1641 N. Halsted (map)
through October 3rd  |  tickets: $25  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

Andras Visky’s autobiographical play Juliet plunges to some of the deepest abysses of misery. It describes his mother’s experience in a Romanian gulag from 1959 to 1964, where she had to raise seven children—Andras included—while imprisoned for being married to a reverend. The one-woman show explores the fine line where the flickering flame of the human spirit burns out. Visky lays bare some powerful truths that’ll have you reaching for the Prozac. The play bristles with gravitas. The utter, entirely-believable pain in the language strikes true in the heart, but the heavy subject matter weighs the piece down.

Melissa Hawkins plays Juliet by Andras Visky 2 In the subtitle, Visky claims he has penned a dialogue “about love,” even though only one character speaks for the whole duration. The author, along with the sharp-witted Melissa Hawkins portraying his mother, create a very real interaction between Juliet and her God. The relationship is complex and nuanced, even though we only hear and see one half. Hawkins’ biggest strength is clarity, a forte which makes the “dialogue” come alive. Visky packs his story with spirituality, understandable because he was a minister’s son, a minister that was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Several aspects of the real life narrative plug into the Biblical account of Job, a point Juliet makes several times. Her experience has her questioning everything, including both her prayerbook and the Communist propaganda proclaiming God’s non-existence.

Huge questions are at bat in Visky’s prose. Juliet debates suicide in as grand of terms as Hamlet. She claims she is well acquainted with the hand-maidens of death, even enjoying a hot bath at their hands. Sometimes she even implies regret for not joining them. She ponders, perhaps even dreams, about what it would be like to leave her children behind. Juliet fields the questions, I assume, most people that trek through that sort of agony ask themselves.

There are a few times Hawkins and Visky let some humor flutter out. There needs to be more of those moments. The releases are what make such a horrible ordeal not only a bit more palatable, but relatable. Even though Hawkins has been touring the show for years, Juliet’s sense of humor comes off as unsure. She has some brilliant moments, such as the first time she surveys her new home. After five days of being cooped up in cattle trains without access to a bath, she releases her naked children into the rain. It’s the little slices of joy, wit, and irony that make the show watchable. Hawkins appears to paint other moments with comedy, but they lack the clarity that defines the rest of the performance.

Director Karin Coonrod and her team create a world inside the tiny Royal George studio that’s incredibly Spartan but infinitely adaptable. Matthew Kooi’s lighting design is stunning, relying on several, single-instrument moments. His choices drastically set the perfect mood for each section and push the drama of the entire show. Hawkins owns the entire stage, which contains more surprises than it would first appear. One heartbreaking moment occurs when she contemplates her husband’s possible demise. When crying out that he is alive, she grabs onto a coat (apparently Visky’s actual father’s garment) that hangs from the flies, but quickly releases it when the more probable reality hits her, letting it sway forlornly.

In Hawkins beats the heart of a performer. She tosses herself into the sea of the character, even when the situation is so bleak. Visky, like many of Eastern Bloc writers, waxes existentially, shaping austere subject matter with grace. Juliet asks the audience to slog through a lot, but the final moments give the journey meaning.

  
  
Rating: ★★★
  
  

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