KINGSTONIA: DIALECT PERVERSO written and performed by Ann Holloway, directed by Moynan King. Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to April 10, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $10-$25, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Ann Holloway is a powerful stage presence, a performer who's always emotionally present and whose sense of humour has a wicked sexual side. Too bad her new show, Kingstonia , a ribald satire on small-town society covering several decades, only shows off these pluses sporadically.
Dr. Ann Semblance (Holloway), who's spent time exploring the wilds of Kingstonia, is delivering a scientific lecture on its language as well as its residents' physical mannerisms and habits, including their mating rituals.
Surrounded by vowel charts and beakers, the white-coated scientist is both meticulous and befuddled, a comic figure with a high moral tone who's shocked by and attracted to the material she presents. She dubs her subjects, low-rungers on the evolutionary chain, the Kays, and admits they're drawn from "a murky gene pool." They use "fuck" as every part of speech, have unique pickup lines and rely on sex and drugs to get them through the day as well as the night.
The writing is sometimes funny, but director Moynan King hasn't helped Holloway organize the rambling monologue or point up its several dramatic climaxes. The best moments are the doctor's mimicry of the Kays' physical and verbal tics - the dialect's sifted into her like coal dust into a miner's lungs - and her own memories of nightlife and mornings-after in Kingstonia.
If anything, the material is too well polished. Holloway works best when she can just let rip with a satiric line or a joyfully erotic sexual innuendo, and in this production her entertaining earthiness is often toned down.