What could possibly go wrong on an innocent “first date?” In Lane Michael Stanley’s silly comedy, “Lipstick,” receiving its world premiere at Island City Stage, well, just about everything.
Anna (Vanessa Elise) nervously awaits the arrival of Kelly (Abby Nigro), a friend from yoga class, for a dinner date at her New York City apartment. The only problem is Anna’s gaydar isn’t quite fine-tuned and she’s unsure if Kelly is actually a lesbian. She wrings her hands in anticipation with flighty gay pal Mal (Corey Rose), who is anticipating a hook-up of his own, thanks to a Grindr-like app, Bandit.
In the meantime, Kelly’s ex Cara (Rachel Gil de Gibaja) shows up, prepared to proclaim her devotion to Kelly. She’s just skipped out on her wedding to a man, still dressed in her wedding gown. Mal’s mother, Vanessa (Christina N. Alexander), also arrives unexpectedly on the scene, determined to squeeze every Manhattan tourist attraction in an afternoon’s visit. There’s also the landlord, Hank (Peter Bisuito), who makes an inconvenient appearance to snake some pipe in the bathroom.
Stanley’s plot then takes more than a few predictable twists:
When Kelly does finally arrive, all the guests wind up hidden in bedrooms and closets (get ready to groan at a few coming out of the closet jokes). Over the next 65 minutes, doors slam as the characters make hurried, yet surprisingly unnoticed entrances and exits, hurling one-line sex jokes galore and screaming at the slightest incursion. And, let’s just agree dildos are multipurpose tools.
Stanley’s farce evokes memories of “The Three Stooges” or even a relatively more recent “Three’s Company” episode. For the more cosmopolitan theater-goer, think “Boeing Boeing.”
While nearly every laugh is obviously set up, there are a few surprises along the way. Cara’s wedding dress is a virtual utili-kilt—she pulls everything but the proverbial kitchen sink out of the pocket (which should excite Hank), but since when do wedding dresses have pockets?
Then, there’s the clever rap number in which Anna and Cara explain the ins and outs of lesbianism to a questioning Kelly. Who knew that women were like spaghetti, straight until they get a little wet?
The funniest moments occur when Mal’s dates, “The Bandit Man” (Dean Nigro), appear at the door in rapid succession, requiring complete, split-second costume changes. There should be an award for the superhuman dressers who pull that miracle off. Silver Palm Awards judges take note!
While the writing isn’t particularly ground-breaking, artistic director Andy Rogow’s commitment and fast-paced direction make this comedy work. There are no deep insights to be gained (except possibly the spaghetti thing?), but “Lipstick” is fun and the mostly older gay male audience at Wilton Theatre Factory responded with lots of laughs. Ultimately, that’s the measure of a hit for Island City Stage.
Island City Stage presents the world premiere of Lane Michael Stanley’s “Lipstick” through Dec. 15 at Wilton Theater Factory, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors. Tickets are $41 at IslandCityStage.org.