Friday, February 13, 2004

Last night I saw a highly enjoyable play here in Chicago called Pulp, an original play inspired by those campy old 50s pulp novels whose cover art has become so popular. I figured it would be an evening of irony, perhaps even indulging a sense of our own superiority--in other words, cheap laughs. But instead the production turned out to be surprisingly fleshed out, balancing funny camp humor with sweet--even saucy--romances. The whole evening--90 minutes without an intermission, just the right length--kept a light touch without ever feeling empty. Terry Logan, a pilot from WAC, arrives in Chicago and finds a family of friends at The Well (the name of the bar is a tip of the hat to Radclyffe Hall) and the fun begins.

I wouldn't be surprised if this production shows up Off Broadway sometime, perhaps as part of a fringe fest, the way Urinetown got started--it could even be a hit, if it's lucky. Through unusually good casting (the 5 actresses are all excellent), crisp pacing, original songs (!) and lighting cues that smartly emphasize the humor and melodrama, the play is garnering excellent reviews from even our stingiest local rags. This is by no means a show only for lesbian audiences.

Which reminds me, I'm looking forward to reading Michael Bronski's recently published collection of prose nuggets from gay male pulps of the same era. Bronski is a brilliant writer on cultural topics, esp. all things queer. In Zmag he recently wrote about what he learned in researching the book--an interesting essay to whet your appetite for the book, Pulp Friction.



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