Friday, August 17, 2012

The Real Drunk Housewives of the San Fernando Valley

Presented by Oh My Ribs! Entertainment at The Complex

Review by Andrew Moore

Former child star Rikki (Robyn Roth) and emcee Randy (Chris Caldwell Eckert) get "real."

At times surreal and never not funny, Kelly Holden-Bashar and Bill Haller's new musicalette, The Real Drunk Housewives of the San Fernando Valley, is a raucous and entertaining diversion, perfect for a "gals' night out."

Part parody, part fever dream, Drunk Housewives plops us down in the studio audience for the end of season reunion show.  The archetypes are all here, and they are cranked up to "eleven."  Rather than playing us highlight clips, the actresses act out the flashbacks.  Who knew?  Reality TV is a perfect fit for this very theatrical, very presentational treatment.  The songs erupt naturally from the madness.

The music is eclectic, full of lyrical jokes.  "The Bleep Song" trades on the ubiquitous bleeping-out of profanity on these types of shows.  Very funny stuff.  "We're Alive (As Long As We're on Bravo)" is a wry anthem for our age.  The songs would be enough, but we're treated to honest-to-God triple threats in this show, dancing their asses off.  Really, it's a little alarming to reflect on how much talent is committed to such a thin premise.  The show flies because so much care has been put into it, from the songs to the cast.

The ensemble is charmingly twisted and their reality TV creatures are frighteningly credible.  The cast attacks the material with great gusto, perfect comic timing, and musical theatre polish.  Robyn Roth (Rikki) is the stand-out here, turning in a too-accurate portrayal of a former child star turned hopeless alcoholic.  Playing drunk is hard enough; Roth maintains a consistent level of stage-drunkenness that adds to and doesn't distract from her performance.

L to R: Sarah French, Leah Mangum, Chris Caldwell Eckert, Robyn Roth, Jen Rhonheimer, and Ana Cristina

My only complaint: the sound mix.  When the cast sings in unison, nothing is lost, but solos are sometimes overpowered by the music.  Either mic the actors or keep a finger on the master volume, adjusting as needed.  The lyrics are funny -- make sure we can hear all of them.

This show isn't for everyone.  Chris Caldwell Eckert as "Randy," the emcee for the evening, nails it at the top of the show when he says, "Ladies and gay men!"  I imagine this is the perfect way to polish off an evening with your besties.  But even this cynical critic who avoids reality TV like the cultural plague it is laughed his ass off throughout.  So who knows?  If you like to laugh, check it out.

The Real Drunk Housewives of the San Fernando get real on Saturday, August 18th at 10 pm, and Saturday, August 25th at 8 pm and 10 pm. Tickets are $25.  Runtime is just shy of an hour. The Complex is located at 6468 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. Street parking is available, but it's Theatre Row in Hollywood: You will have to do laps to find a spot. Get there a little early.

Visit Oh My Ribs! for more information, including a link to purchase tickets.

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