IN A PIG’S VALISE, Shattered Globe Theatre. As playwright Eric Overmyer confirmed in his slaphappy On the Verge, he loves his wordplay–and in that playful burlesque of changing times and lingo, it waxed cute. But it wanes cloying in this musical film-noir spoof, stuff so silly it gives summer fluff a bad name. Overmyer depicts the struggle of private dick James Taxi to protect curvaceous lounge singer Dolores Con Leche (“Sorrow With Milk”) from nefarious gangster Shrimp Bucket, an oily thug who plans to steal people’s dreams and peddle them to cable TV. Kinky to the max, Bucket has frozen the corpse of Walt Disney (for reanimation in future dreams) and John Dillinger’s penis (for God knows what).
Overmyer is consistent: the crazy-quilt plot makes about as much sense as the title. Tougher to take is the Chandler-esque dialogue, so hard-boiled it’s incoherent. A “prisoner of the genre,” Taxi spouts enough forced similes to choke a word processor (“She could raise gooseflesh on a tossed salad”), scorns “dick” jokes, and self-consciously mocks his own voice-over narration. Despite August Darnell’s serviceable score, the songs don’t travel far–though one arrives triple-X-rated.
Cleverly mounted on a runway bisecting the tiny house, Roger Smart’s midwest premiere is marred by poor diction and indifferent singing. Joe Forbrich and Rebecca Jordan strike some sparks from the stereotypes of wiseass gumshoe and dangerous dame. In fact the versatile cast is good as gold. But the play is pyrite.