THE DIRTY/BEAUTIFUL by Stephen Massicotte, directed by Jim Millan, with Richard Clarkin, Kirstin Hinton, Tony Nappo, Tamara Podemski and Shaun Smyth. Presented by Crow's Theatre at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Runs to April 17, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $25-$30, students $19, Sunday pwyc. 416-975-8555. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Maybe Crow's theatre is losing its edge. The company once mounted raunchy, limit-pushing productions of Unidentified Human Remains And The True Nature Of Love and Shopping And Fucking. Now comes Calgary playwright Stephen Massicotte 's limp script The Dirty/Beautiful , a play about porn and relationships that's about as edgy as The Sunday Night Sex Show With Sue.
It's about two heterosexual couples and their relationships to porn. Slacker Tim ( Shaun Smyth ) is perfectly happy working as a porn store clerk, while his restaurant server girlfriend, Trish ( Kirstin Hinton ), fends off her more ambitious customers' advances.
Meanwhile, real estate guy Mike ( Tony Nappo ) and his wife of two years, Lisa ( Tamara Podemski ), try to add spice to their sex lives by renting some kinky vids. So Mike - and then later Lisa - visits the porn shop, which is frequented by compulsive renter Kurt ( Richard Clarkin ).
What follows is an attempted comedy of eros, as people's sexual fantasies rub up against others' (or their own) inhibitions. It's hard to believe that in 2005 a character can berate her partner because he's thinking of someone else when he masturbates. Or that Massicotte thinks he'll get laughs from the puns in porn video titles.
And it's too bad he doesn't expand on a theme about what's acceptable viewing. Bestiality? Snuff films? That would raise the the level of debate.
There's not much to Jim Millan 's production, which is dominated by porn-laden shelves flanked on either side by bedrooms.
What we're left with are the performances. Hinton is the cast's weak link, strident and shrill (granted, she's in the thinnest role). Smyth gets into his role, finding the anger in aimlessness. Most memorable are Nappo and Podemski, who navigate the changing rules of their relationship with precision. Nappo - frequently typecast - is fascinating here as the sweet, accomodating husband with a secret.