Arts & Culture

Boozy, Boozy Book Of Esther

The Megillah meets Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson in Jewqueen, by the Little Lord Theatre Company Read More

By / March 17, 2011

The Megillah meets Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson in Jewqueen, by the Little Lord Theatre Company.  Showing through April 2nd at Under Saint Mark’s Theatre, Jewqueen amounts to half wild theater production, half Purim party with the kind of over the top zeal, queer gumption and scrappy indie theater charm that’s perfectly apropos for its East Village Venue.

With each guest offered a shot of hard liquor upon arrival, the show begins with an immediate bulldozing of the fourth wall, as lead actor/director Michael Levinton introduces himself as something of an MC/Hebrew school teacher for the evening, educating the audience and fellow actors on the historical context of the Purim story.  Other than Levinton, five girls are on stage, each in a different colored shimmery dress along with one other male actor.  The story begins with the King Achasvayrosh’s party, in which Vashti refuses to appear before the king.  A short musical number called “I Got So Drunk At This Party” ensues. Achasvayros dons a plaid robe, crown and Superman boxers as he drunkenly calls for his queen and Rodney Pallanck (who also acts as keyboardist for the play) enters as Vashti.  With a pair of plastic boobs hanging form a string around his neck, Rodney does a va-va-voom, Jessica Rabbit style dance that evokes Chris Kattan’s Mango from SNL as a sultry introduction for Vashti.  With the actors taking slugs of their booze throughout the play, Jewqueen, though scripted, takes on constantly spontaneous tone.

Of course, we know how the story goes from there, Vashti is executed for refusing to appear before the king and the story of Jew-depmtion unfolds.   Of course, what makes Jewqueen interesting, is the ways in which it strays from conventional telling of the story.

During Jewqueen, actors switch roles randomly, with each actor getting a crack at least a couple of the show’s parts by play’s end.   Three actresses are introduced as Esther and at one point a quick pageant is held to see which of them gets to play Esther for the following section of the play.  Questions like, “What was your first kiss like?” and “What was your most awkward religious experience?” are asked, followed by a slapdash talent portion before the actress is chosen.  Interestingly, the pageant is competed in by the actors and not their Esthers.  Though the roles are constantly in flux, the actors of Little Lord, at times, make pretty lasting impressions in certain roles.  The vivacious Julia Arazi as Mordechai for instance, who manages to be so despite her Tevya style old man outfit, is hysterical as flips Haman a forceful bird throughout the play.  Haman is most memorably portrayed by the Mickey Mouse ears and gloves wearing, Diana Konopka.

If you’re a young weirdo living in Manhattan whose parents have just recently come around to you’re weirdness, or if you just want to milk Purim for the last of it’s celebratory goodness, catch Jewqueen before it goes dark. Otherwise, the Little Lord Theatre Company, who’ve made a forte out of re-telling old stories with a  gender-bending, irreverent twist, are worth keeping an eye out for.