‘The Well of Horniness’ at Iron Crow Theatre

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Go ahead. It’s okay to scream with laughter and stomp your feet.

Though short by Shakespearean standards, this play is howlingly funny as it exploits every lesbian stereotype and cliché known to (wo)man.

Photo courtesy of Iron Crow Theatre.
Jail. Photo by Sean Elias. Photo by Tyler Lyons of Tyler Lyons Photography.

But, if the whole Caitlyn Jenner scenario of recent weeks leaves you upset, puzzled, angry, and siding with Timbaland, Snoop Dog, Drake Bell, or Faux News, you’re probably better off catching a showing of Ice Capades.

Especially if a character who plays “a Lady Dick named Garnet McClit” horrifies you.

The Well of Horniness was performance artist Holly Hughes’ breakthrough script in 1983.

32 years later, it is still as OMG funny, and refreshingly pugnacious and shocking as it was then.

The play is short and deliberately overacted, as if it was an extended Saturday Night Live skit or a one-hour comedy series show.

The only time a character appeared to stray from the late 20th century script is when now disgraced comedian Bill Cosby is mentioned. She paused, gave an eye-roll, and snorted in disgust.

The eight-person cast is all-female, playing female and male roles, and directed by Julianne Franz. An exception was made for Sean Elias, Executive Director of Iron Crow, a “theatre of mischief and subversion, a queer theatre celebrating the renegade and the unorthodox, in all of us …”

He kicked off the evening in the old, second story theatre that felt slightly like a TV talk show studio, with the standard plea to turn off cellphones and other distractions.

“And, if you have an Apple watch,” he smiled, “you can afford to make a tax-deductible donation to our theatre company.” Elias noted this is the Baltimore and regional debut of Hughes’ play.

The set design by Mollie Singer and lighting design by Chris Flint were deceptively simple-looking but effective, and, with the exception of the backdrop set containing three doorways (which also served as a projection screen, announcing “corporate sponsors” and character entrances), everything could be briskly carried off by hand or rolled on skateboard wheels.

Stage right held a podium which was occupied by narrator Andrea Bush for most of the show.

Bush, Kelly Hutchison, whose primary role was “Rod”, and Katie Hileman as McClit, were in male drag throughout.

The costume design by Wil E. Crowther, utilizing costumes on loan from Center Stage and Stevenson University, was effective and, sometimes, hysterical.

The menswear, especially, was tailored to fit the performers’ bodies, as if they’d stepped out of a 1980s time capsule.

The ensemble made a dizzying array of fast changes of costume and character, adding to the fun romp onstage.

Photo courtesy of Iron Crow Theatre.
Georgette (Ann Turiano) and Vicki  (Elizabeth Scollan). Photo by Tyler Lyons of Tyler Lyons Photography.

And, it was a wild funny romp, with the ticket holders in on many of the jokes as if they were an actual studio audience.

Rod is engaged to be married to Vicki (Elizabeth Scollan), an uptight preppy-looking blonde in a pink suit. Vicki had a previous secret life in college: she belonged to the Tri-Delta Tri-Bads, a Sapphic sorority of some notoriety. Rod is too busy going on-camera to promote his business,’House of Shag ‘n’ Stuff,’ to notice her dual lifestyle.

He’s taken Vicki to a local nightspot and restaurant, The Vixens Den, to meet his sister Georgette (Ann Turiano), a hot redhead in a clingy, draped, short black velvet dress cut up to there.

At The Vixens Den, Georgette has a run-in with Babs (Maranda Kosten), an angry, spurned former lover – okay a two-night stand former lover.

Then, Georgette and Vicki meet. Again. Small nuclear explosion. While Rod is otherwise occupied, Vicki goes after a fork dropped on the floor beneath their restaurant table.

What happens next is hysterical and unprintable except to say both ladies had desert before the main course.

They head into a restroom to tidy up.

A shot rings out.

Someone is dead.

Someone flees.

Rod is still doing a commercial.

What follows borrows from every comedic plot possible. We’ll suffice it to say Lady Dick McClit learns there are other uses for a sex toy – other than the obvious.

The cast of 'The Well of Horniness.' Photo by Sean Elias.
The cast of ‘The Well of Horniness.’ Photo by Tyler Lyons of Tyler Lyons Photography.

What is especially remarkable about this small but ambitious theatre company is its extensive – and groundbreaking – use of its website and social media to get its message out there. Attendees were offered the option of taking a paper copy of the program, or using their smartphones to access a site through a QR code. On the reverse of the paper program, Iron Crow helpfully provided QR codes to its sites on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. More QRs were printed throughout the paper program.

(Okay, I feel guilty for killing a tree. Sue me!)

Running Time: Approximately one hour. There was no intermission – just a lot of laughter.

The Well of Horniness plays through is performed at Iron Crow Theatre Company performing at Baltimore Theatre Project – 45 West Preston Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call (443) 637-2769, or purchase them online.

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Wendi Winters
Wendi Winters is a writer, reporter, columnist and photographer - and a former NYC public relations executive. A good portion of her career has been in public relations - backed by solid experience in fashion retailing, wholesaling, textiles, marketing, advertising, design and promotion. She owned her own successful fashion public relations/advertising/special events/runway show production firm for seven years. As a journalist, she was the first freelancer to bring a journalism award home to The Capital - and then earned two more awards. Since May 2013, Ms. Winters has been a full time staff member at Capital Gazette Communications. Prior to that, she freelanced for the company for twelve years. Including her three weekly columns, she writes more than 250 articles annually. Her writing byline has appeared in Details Magazine, What's Up? Annapolis Magazine, and numerous others. She's been a feature writer for Associated Press Special Features and for Copley News Service. For years, her fashion critic columns ran in the NYC weeklies Manhattan Spirit and Our Town. Since moving to this area in 1999, as a D.C./Baltimore-area theatre critic, her reviews appeared in Theatre Spotlight and The Review. Plus, she was a Helen Hayes Awards nominator for two terms. Mother of four, she continues to be active as a Girl Scout leader and a regional church youth advisor. You bet she can make a mean S'More!