THE betty dean fanzine! by Greg Kearney, directed by the Betty Dean Dream Team, with Caroline Azar, Josh Holliday and Margaret Lamarre. Presented by Stepford Theatre at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson). Runs to February 24, Tuesday-Sunday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15-$20, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-7529. Rating: NN Rating: NN
greg kearney's the betty dean Fanzine! is less a play than a collection of random, sometimes clever lines.Cleverness is nothing new for Kearney, a very funny columnist for the gay and lesbian biweekly Xtra!
But he's out of his league here in this rambling tale of a small-town woman named Margot who's currently being sued for writing a "possibly defamatory" fanzine about her childhood friend Betty Dean, now a famous lesbian tennis pro.
Caroline Azar's Margot is a fascinating loser, a female Hedwig (sans angry inch) in tennis whites. Calm and fearless, Azar brings out the smiling menace in the woman, her words bristling with tension, her neurotic outbursts unpredictable and always watchable.
Despite some satiric shots at celebrities and addictive behaviour, though, Kearney and the directing team (listed mysteriously on the program as the Betty Dean Dream Team) haven't found an appropriate structure or emotional core for Margot's story. They're content to revel in white trash and showbiz clichés.
Worse, the play's themes feel fake. You can't imagine the middle-aged Margot penning any sort of zine, and the maudlin backstory and tennis metaphor -- life as a court? -- feel forced.