It’s not the worst show ever seen on the New York stage. That distinction is still up for grabs between Madonna in “Speed-the-Plow” and Macaulay Culkin in “Madame Melville.” Both of these actors appeared to be reading from their scripts for the first time.
Candace Bushnell memorizes much better than Madonna or Culkin. She does, however, have the advantage of having written “Is There Still Sex in the City?” which premiered Tuesday at Off Broadway’s Daryl Roth Theatre. Her one-woman show is autobiographical, and it borrows a little brashness from Suzanne Somers’ life story, “The Blonde in the Thunderbird,” which was seen briefly on Broadway in 2005.
Somers was promoting the ThighMaster. Bushnell promotes her “Sex and the City” series as well as her numerous books. As well as Belvedere Vodka. Even before “Is There Still Sex?” begins, Anna Louizos’ living room set promotes alcohol in the Candi Bar downstairs, and, in case we missed it, the pre-curtain message to wear masks and turn off cellphones includes a plug for drinking on the premises.
Bushnell’s credo is planet-destroying consumption, and we’re not talking about any old shopping spree. Bushnell expresses her moral outrage over an early draught of “Sex and the City” in which her beloved characters were seen shopping at a bargain-basement dump. The offensive script is projected on stage, allowing us to see the error and how Bushnell corrected it with her red pen by crossing out the name Bloomingdale’s.
“I also wrote Gucci!” “Gucci, Gucci, Gucci!” To much applause, Bushnell cries out with his fist raised. Carrie Bradshaw worships at Manolo Blahnik, not Maserati, which is a good thing for these theatregoers’ bank accounts.
The new “Mrs. Doubtfire” musical premiered on Broadway earlier this week.
It’s another show that had its moment a decade or two ago. The father in “Mrs. Doubtfire” today comes across as a whiny loser. Bushnell is more obnoxious: she is a whiny winner who flaunts White Female Privilege. Listening to Bushnell complain about being a member of an oppressed majority group while her place-dropping ranges from Aspen to Sag Harbor to Chateau Marmont is unsettling.
Lorin Latarro instructs Bushnell to pause for laughter even when none exists.
In the dead air, two inspired directorial moments emerge. The first occurs when Bushnell tosses scrunchies into the audience. Later, Bushnell appears on stage with her two matching designer poodles, to even louder applause than the “Gucci! Gucci! Gucci!” line. “That woke everybody up,” a woman behind me observed.
It also answers the show’s title question: Pets make the best boyfriends.
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