The Penelope Show by Elizabeth Harpur and Lory Berger, with Harpur, directed by Berger. Presented by LOL Productions at the Poor Alex Cabaret (296 Brunswick). Runs to October 28, Wednesday-Thursday 8 pm. $12-$15. 416-599-7440. Rating: N Rating: N
Elizabeth Harpur has a husky, dark-hued voice and she knows how to deliver a line (and occasionally a song) with style and charm. That's not enough to get her or us through the rambling, self-indulgent two-act embarrassment that is The Penelope Show .
Putting her hair in braids and letting her voice get all high-pitched and squeaky, Harpur plays the title character, a precocious seven-year-old who's accidentally blown up her school and is holding a fundraiser to pay for the damage.
As a partial premise for a show, that's fine, but Harpur and director/co-writer Lory Berger give us little in the way of a dramatic arc or reason to care about the heroine.
Penelope preens, sings a cute song about being blamed for things and introduces some of the other people in her life, all played by Harpur, including Penelope's martini-drinking, divorced mother, the mother's sometime lover/gigolo gardener and Penelope's home economics teacher.
There's maybe 10 minutes of material here, including a Marlene Dietrich parody and a couple of lines about being part of a James Bond film. Yet nothing else feels fresh or honest.
Second City's Jim Clayton is wasted as the show's musical director (he's onstage with a fake moustache as someone named Loope), and comedy guru Allan Guttman 's name, shockingly, is on a silly, monotonous and unfunny video that showcases Penelope's fascination with bums.
One of the worst shows of the year.