By J. Scott Hill
Who is Chicago’s hottest playwright right now? Sarah Ruhl? Tracy Letts? Bruce Norris?
MsPixy, the belle of Belmont Burlesque Revue and a driving force behind Gorilla Tango’s Geek Girl Burlesque, is the hottest playwright in Chicago right now. She doesn’t even call herself a playwright; the press releases from Gorilla Tango say, “created and directed by MsPixy.” Her runaway hit Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque has been playing to sold-out crowds Fridays and Saturdays for nine months now; not since TimeLine Theatre’s 2009 smash production of Alan Bennett’s History Boys has a show been extended and re-extended so many times.
This time, MsPixy has taken on the entire genre of fantasy — films, fiction, and gaming — with Geek Girl Burlesque’s The Fellowship of the Boobs: a LotR, WoW, D&D RPG Burlesque. The Fellowship of the Boobs is about as far from a sophomore slump as MsPixy can get. Although this show is chockablock full of in-jokes for the sword-and-sorcery-initiated, there are nonstop laughs here for anyone who has ever seen a summer movie that turned a profit, or read a book containing even a single elf. The plot is as familiar as the Shire: four adventurers — The Elf, The Dwarf, The Warrior, and The Mysterious Zemrat — embark upon a ribald quest to defeat the big bad Dragonbitch.
The Fellowship of the Boobs is, above all, an intelligent and hilarious satire. Take out the striptease, replace it with melee fighting, and this script would be an excellent vehicle for Babes with Blades. Take out the striptease, replace it with musical numbers, and this script would be an excellent vehicle for Second City Theatricals. The play’s the thing, and this one’s got brains AND belly laughs.
And boobs. They’re in the title, even. The cheesecake here is provocative, at times visually stunning, and always dead sexy. One of our heroines is trapped in a backlit gossamer cocoon of spider’s silk. Another adventurer is disrobed by pixies. Still another is restrained and undressed by Cthulhu. MsPixy’s costume design and choreography are daring and inventive.
It always helps to have a strong cast, and MsPixy has cannibalized three-quarters of Boobs and Goombas’s wonderful original cast for FotB. Dinah Dentata sparkles as the hippie-dippy Elf, and that’s more than just body glitter. Hazel Hellbender’s Dwarf dropped straight out of the pages of a manga and onto the set; in a miniskirt and pigtails, wielding a battleaxe, Hazel Hellbender makes viciousness super-kawaii. Diva la Vida as the Mysterious Zemrat looks like Lady Gaga’s bodyguard gone dieselpunk, and acts like a cross between a queen xenomorph and John Shaft (JFGI).
The Warrior, played by London Derriere, might as well be called Valkyrie, with her bringing of death and her delightfully ponderous and gooney Scandinavian accent — think Madeline Kahn as Lili von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles, but move the accent 1,600 miles due north. With dead-on comic timing and a breakaway breastplate, London Derriere simpers, simmers, and slaughters.
A handful of performers in The Fellowship of the Boobs are tasked with playing the throngs of friends and foes who the four heroines encounter throughout their quest. Lacey Lay plays several characters, but makes everyone would-be tree-huggers as the Birch Nymph. Roofie Colada turns heads most when she spins her silk as Spider. Sweet Ginger Rose has more costume changes than a shopping montage in a Julia Roberts movie; among her many roles, Ms. Rose is fuzzy and ferocious as the She-Wolf, while friendly and fast-witted as the Tip Wench.
Mama Bare takes on a few parts in The Fellowship of the Boobs, but none as essential or as entertaining as the Dungeon Master. Mama Bare’s Dungeon Master is the tour guide, the narrator, and the voice of reason on this madcap pilgrimage. She is the gal behind the counter at your favorite comics shop, the cosplay princess at the sci-fi convention, and the clan chieftain of your LARP.
Right now, Chicago has a lava-hot burlesque scene; with The Fellowship of the Boobs, Geek Girl Burlesque has thrown an enchanted ring into that hot burlesque lava. This enchantment, scribed by MsPixy, is the one to rule them all. Be ye one whom the masses venerate as cool, or one whom doth get label-ed nerd, DO NOT MISS this sexy, smart, and sublime adventure.
(“The Fellowship of the Boobs: a LotR, WoW, D&D RPG Burlesque” runs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. through August 25 at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. 773-598-4549)
The Fellowship of the Boobs production photos by K Leo.