Following his smash hit run with Bright Colors and Bold Patterns in 2017-18, writer/performer Drew Droege returns to SoHo Playhouse for a limited engagement of his latest comedy Happy Birthday Doug. Presented by Broadway’s Michael Urie (who directed the previous production), the high-energy high-camp solo show celebrates, and eviscerates, gay bar culture in LA with tongue-in-cheek parodies of an array of familiar clichés and stereotypes, all played by the hilarious Droege with full-out abandon.
The show is set on a Wednesday night at a wine bar in Silverlake, where a group of friends, exes, crashers, and others have gathered for the 41st birthday of the titular character, a writer whose new book was just published. The over-the-top evening is overflowing with wine, drugs, sex, and shade, as a steady stream of sidesplitting partygoers (each identified by name on a background projection screen), greets Doug (unseen until his final monologue) and offers him their best (well, actually, not so great) wishes for his birthday and the success of his novel, along with dishing loads of hot gossip about themselves and the others.
Directed by Tom DeTrinis with rapid-fire timing, the shots keep coming as the satirized personalities (on which Doug insists he did NOT base the characters in his book!) keep talking, and drinking, talking more, and drinking more. As they do, they reveal riotous details about their backgrounds, inter-relationships, and perspectives, with eye-winking pokes at political correctness and California psychobabble, barbs about the competitiveness of the writing industry, and a whole lot of bitchy attitude.
Droege, without changing costumes, clearly distinguishes each of the men through his particular vocal inflections and speech patterns, facial expressions and body language, in a series of uproarious send-ups – at one point shifting back and forth at a whirlwind pace between both halves of a quibbling couple; in another segment conjuring the apparition of a genteel and omniscient Oscar Wilde; and in repeat appearances, portraying the progressive drunkenness and word-slurring of one uninvited, unwelcome, and “now sober” attendee who wreaks havoc with the group.
If you’re a fan of Drew Droege and find humor, as he does, in outrageous spoofs of contemporary gay society, you’ll love Happy Birthday Doug. It’s an hour of non-stop laughs and rib-poking fun, so “consider this your cordial invitation” to party with him and all of his wild farcical characterizations at SoHo Playhouse.
Running Time: Approximately 55 minutes, without intermission.