Calgony Springs, Hi-Volt Theatre Company, at Stage Left Theatre. Hi-Volt is almost halfway through its ten-episode soap opera parody–but that shouldn’t discourage newcomers. As any soaps buff will tell you, you can usually get up to speed in ten minutes. If not, the Hi-Volt program contains a synopsis. All the classic dynamics are intact here, as the rich and powerful fight and screw (in every way) the scheming trash from the other side of town. Heiress falls in love with pool boy, needy bloodsucker accuses corporate mogul of fathering her child, barmaid vamp seduces her twin sister’s boyfriend–sound familiar?
Playwright-director Angelina Martinez hits many of the genre’s spoofworthy points: the stilted dialogue (“If I didn’t know you, brother, I’d think you were hiding something”), hokey names (wealthy twins are called Rhine and Stone), and absurd “actor emoting in silence” precommercial pauses. My favorite is Martinez’s nod to pretty-boy casting: who cares if Raider Ghiradelli (Anthony Tournis) is too chiseled and Ivy League to be a swarthy bad boy? I want his poster over my bed–eye patch and all!
To go beyond late-night fluff to pointed parody, Martinez needs to develop her jabs at soap conventions and forgo some broad silliness. The pool boy doesn’t have to be Einstein, but he could be more magnetic than Paul Metreyeon’s Jethro on speed. And costume designer Elizabeth Kline should explore soap fashion extremes. No young heiress would be caught dead in a dowdy silk dress covered in giant roses.