City-based writer/director Robert Matson has resurrected — or is it re-erected? — his original hit play, “Beneath the Zipper,” a celebration of the penis, at The Boom.
Think “The Vagina Monologues” for men, but less heady. Which is fine, because I don’t think Matson is looking to change the world as much as entertain people. Be warned: Like the play, this review contains some frank language concerning the male member.
Around 25 vignettes cover everything from getting one’s first erection to being traumatized by genitalia-free action figures. The brave and capable cast takes on several roles (gay and straight) in scenes that cover a variety of tallywacker-centric topics.
Todd Clark goes for broke in the steamy “Toilet Story,” where his character recounts/re-enacts sneaking off to a bathroom at school to pleasure himself. He also knocks it out of the park in the work’s one truly dramatic scene, “Boyfriends,” as a straight man living with the consequences of HIV, with strong support from Sean Eckart as a gay co-worker. It’s a great piece.
Clark and Eckart are a killer double act again, as ogling gay men in the hilarious “Pecker Peekers.” Their vocal characterization and physicality are a riot. Eckert and Rodney Brazil both deliver the goods in “Dick-ccessories.”
Think “The Vagina Monologues” for men.
Rory Littleton is hilarious as a straight frat guy in “Curved” and absolutely unforgettable in “Search of the Dark Legend,” in which three old size queens go in search of … well, use your imagination.
Paul James nails it in “West Side Sex-Story.” Aaron Chartier is consistently great throughout the show, with a standout turn in “Boner.” Marcus Wade, James and Chartier all deliver slapstick gold in “Condom Expo.”
Then there’s the Speedo-wearing “Zipper Card Guy,” played by the distractingly attractive Matt Tracy. Although relegated to the role of eye candy, he brings a playful confidence.
While a lot of fun, “Zipper” has a roughness in places that can be charming or distracting. Some scenes, like the ongoing “Dick Debate,” don’t quite work as well as needed, while other great bits with excellent performances get robbed of applause because of awkward transitions.
I applaud Matson — one of the metro’s few voices of original alt-theater to put gay characters front and center — for his efforts. With just a little bit more polish, the already-good “Zipper” could be great.