The premiere production of Bianka's Wake, Blake Yelavich's farce about a badly behaved Madonna-like celeb has some solid physical comedy and pleasing physicality, but the lack of internal logic and shallow humor make it a weak evening of theatre.
Reviewed by Ada Calhoun, Fri., Oct. 13, 2000
Bianka's Wake: Three's Company, uncensoredDougherty Arts Center
Through October 21
Running time: 2 hrs
Directed by Blake Yelavich, this profoundly tacky flesh feast depicts a night in the life of Bianka Cherry, a diva in the mold of Madonna during her pouty, rubber-braceleted, pre-Hindu era. Slutty, drunk, and really stupid, Katherine James' Bianka has a tendency to be "provoclitative," as the bimbo puts it. And on this night in an apartment outside Hollywood, she is joined by seven other Hollywood types, most of whom are, for some reason, interested in redeeming Bianka's reputation.
The premise betrays all the consistency of a porn flick. How, for example, can the plot revolve around the dreaded "defaminization" of Bianka's character when her whole schtick is bad girldom? Sitcom clichés are repeated ad nauseam: God forbid anyone should verify the identity of the person under the covers before confessing to or molesting them; people are perpetually eavesdropping in full view. (Yelavich and co-producer Kirk Addison have constructed an excellently trashy apartment set that is perfect California chic, but it's really not big enough for people to hide in.)
Here at shallow central, Valium and liquor are in copious supply. Though at least one person almost dies, Bianka's Wake does not, thankfully, turn into one of those icky snuff comedies. Still, most of the jokes cover well-worn territory like Michael Jackson's skin color and Ricky Martin's sexuality. Bianka's agent Francis has an orgasmic experience with her vibrating cell phone. Some lines make little sense, for example: "If I were you, I'd trade her in for a dog and then shoot the dog." And oy, but the agents have stale Jewish accents!
Still, the show is far from unwatchable. There's plenty of solid physical comedy, and the characters bound around the room like meticulously groomed cartoon characters, each one more aesthetically pleasing than the next. Self-absorbed Gordon at one point wears nothing but a Barbie towel around his waist. Bianka runs around in a bra and panties. Dexter the drag queen, played by Jody Lanclos, manages several divine costume changes -- from Cher to policewoman (with a strategically placed baton) to Bianka, replete with soda-bottle bra. Adam Barbisch's Hank, the ripped policeman, is eventually stripped down to black boots, an open uniform shirt, a tool belt, and gold underwear suspiciously similar to those Barbisch donned recently as Rocky in Zachary Scott's Rocky Horror Picture Show (some details warrant attention).
The bawdiness is drag-show extreme, and if the plot were more compelling or the jokes better, Bianka's Wake could qualify for cult status. Instead, it's more along the lines of an uncensored episode of Three's Company. With incessant grabbing (and the occasional glimpse) of tits and crotches, this ain't exactly high art. But hell, weak plots are nothing new; at least this one is accompanied by attractive actors in fetish wear.