Friday, October 2, 2009

Dixie’s Tupperware Party, PlayhouseSquare

(Dixie, dressed for success in the Tupperware world.)

If you’ve ever wanted to be instructed by a drag queen on how to keep your fingers dry when extracting an olive immersed in a liquid-filled container, this is the show for you.

Dixie’s Tupperware Party, now being presented by PlayhouseSquare at the 14th Street Theatre, is exactly what the title suggests. Yes, you can actually buy some of the “Tupperware-branded crap” that is displayed and discussed in the show. Yes, it’s a party, filled with loads of drinking references, a couple allusions to drugs, and mild-to-racy double entendres. And finally yes, Dixie is played by a man, Kris Andersson, who wrote this one-man show with Elizabeth Meriwether.

Of course, in the world of home-based retailing, Tupperware parties have been trumped by parties featuring exotic massage oils and tubular, battery-powered massaging devices. But Dixie is an old fashioned gal, a single mom with questionable (and perhaps felonious) parenting skills, a potty mouth and a non-stop Tupperware riff.

It’s the underlying honesty of the pitch that makes this show fun (even though it does go on a bit too long). Dixie/Kris is, in actuality, a Tupperware salesperson, and she/he genuinely loves these products. She’s not making fun of them, or of anyone who would want to buy plastic tumblers with seal-tight lids featuring a hole for a straw that “closes up like a vagina” when the straw is removed, to prevent spills.

Dixie’s from Alabama, so she speaks in a rapid-fire southern drawl, often repeating phrases over and over, and intentionally slurring words or phrases that she finds too long or boringly complicated. And while the show is scripted, much of the fun comes from audience participation as a couple lucky attendees win a raffle and go on stage to collect their prize and/or verbal tweaking.

Dixie also covers the history of Tupperware, from the inventive inspiration of Earl Tupper to the marketing genius of Brownie Wise, an average housewife who thought up the parties in the first place and became a Tupperware executive. Even amid the guffaws, the playwright’s fondness for Brownie as a pioneering female in business, back in the patriarchal 1950s, comes through loud and clear.

Also, every audience member is given a Tupperware catalog and an order form, and Dixie installs herself in the lobby after the show to pose for pictures and take orders. (I told you she was serious about this.)

On a bare stage with only a table full of plastic products and an overhead screen to show Tupperware close-ups and some less-than-effective brief video clips, Dixie rules the evening. And you’ll come away with a smile on your face and, maybe, some Tupperware arriving on your porch in the near future.

(By the way, you keep your olive-picking fingers dry by using the Tupperware Pick-A-Deli®, which employs a lift-up strainer to raise the slippery little buggers out of the fluid.)

Dixie’s Tupperware Party
Through October 18, presented by
PlayhouseSquare at the 14th Street Theatre,
2037 East 14th Street, 216-241-6000

(photo: Bradford Rogne)

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