Los Angeles Times

June 24, 2005

 

THEATER BEAT

 

'Mrs. Jones' has a wifely nightmare

 

The best cult films are happy accidents rather than prefab "niche" products. But onstage there's a kind of formula for kitschy, fabulous, late-night-style fun—genre parody, suburban revolt, beehive wigs.

 

D'Arcy Drollinger's musical "The Possession of Mrs. Jones" delivers the goods with Day-Glo pertness, suggesting an unholy shotgun wedding of "Bewitched" and "Ruthless!," with a few daubs of "Hairspray."

 

The titular heroine (Corinne Dekker) is a too-perfect 1950s housewife whose new washing machine has a few design flaws. For one, it's manufactured by an evil company intent on buying up this world and the next. Oh, and it contains God (David A. Kozen) and Satan (Keith Baker), who tumble out in evening wear to do a song-and-dance plea for Mrs. Jones' help.

 

It's a rocky start, but things kick into gear when God and Satan end up possessing—replacing, actually—the bodies of the Jones kids and discovering how the other half lives.

 

When we glimpse Kozen as a hairy-chested, frazzle-wigged teen-girl delinquent—a hilariously ugly image amid the pristine period designs of Mark Worthington's set, Max Pierson's tasty lighting and Shauna Leone's costumes—we know we're in good hands.

 

No housewife-unhinged narrative would be complete without an uncomprehending husband (Joey Sorge) and smallminded neighbors: an impish mayor (Jay Brian Winnick), his klepto harridan of a wife (Kimberly Lewis), a dizzy Tupperware saleswoman (Karen Gordon) and a frumpy Avon lady (the winning Winnick).

 

Drollinger's pleasantly poppy music is perkily rendered by Ted Hamer's trio and the cast, and Tootsie Olan's dances use the small space well. So does director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, who keeps the laughs on track and the irony as thick as Spam. In short, "Possession" serves up quite a spread.

 

Rob Kendt

 

"The Possession of Mrs. Jones," Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 17. $25. (323) 960-7612. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.