Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: The Most Fabulous Camp Ever

Is there any better way to celebrate summer than at camp? Yes! At Gay Camp! What is Gay Camp you ask? Well, the title should tell you exactly you’re about to see. Campy gayness; also known as a fast paced, comic romp about a fictional gay reform camp, Camp Acceptance. Told with over a dozen characters played by three phenomenal comedic actors, Gay Camp is chock filled with stereotypes and inside jokes, executed in all the right ways.
At Camp Awareness, the mission is to cure the young boys and girls stricken with the horrible, tragic “disease” of gayness. Lead by June, the madcap ringleader, Martha, the butchy head of security, and a pair of ignorant camp counselors, Camp Awareness is in full swing to cure a new batch of kids. Anton, also known as Anthony and not Tony, Joshua, nicknamed Shua by his roomie Anton, and Suzie, a pintsized Wendy’s look-a-like, all try to get out of Camp Awareness alive before they’re turned into Joe Sixpacks and rid of Rachel Maddow haircuts. As the play continues, Anton and Joshua form a bond, not to the camp’s liking, and attempt to create a mutiny against the hierarchies and bring acceptance to Camp Acceptance.
The trio of actors, Christian Mansfield, Ken Urso, and Philip Mutz (who is a writer on the project), have a big undertaking of making their assortment of characters diverse and boy do they succeed. Each actor has a spotlight character, but Mansfield’s Anton and Urso’s June are the highlights. I think a spinoff for Anton may be in order. They each get an opportunity to be the scene-stealer, yet they don’t go too over the top and become a distraction, a trait of a great comedian. The comic-timing in Gay Camp is impeccable. Even in the transitions the comedy shines bright. A simple voice over with a quip about Camp Acceptance makes the audience laugh and remain engaged. Some include “Camp Acceptance: Because some holes are only for pooping” and “Camp Acceptance: Where rainbows go to die.”
What director Phillip Fazio and writers Philip Mutz and Susan-Kate Heaney are successful at is creating a hilarious, engaging comedy that pokes fun of the Santorum loving, Rick Santorum that is, right-wing ignorance. Each of the numerous characters has a clear arch, something that can be difficult to do with three actors playing multiple characters. The witty dialogue and punchy references garner big laughs with the target audience. But the audience who goes to see Gay Camp already knows the importance of the slightly preachy conclusion. Getting to those who need to be taught is the challenge.
Gay Camp is a high-octane comedy that deserves to be seen by all because isn’t laughing together all the world needs?
A successful and memorable comedy at Fringe are hard to come by. This is one of them. For a good, honest laugh, take a trip to Gay Camp.