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{Pouting} The Sexy Dance
By Joanne O'Sullivan
Directed by Carol Lempert
Starring Joanne O'Sullivan
Played at Tarragon Extra Space, Sep. 8-19, 1999
Review by Michael Cottrell


{Joanna O'Sullivan, posing behind shower curtain}

"Can you grow zing?" --Diane

Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" grabs the audience to attention. This gay boy settles into opening night of The Sexy Dance thinking all right, this is going to be OK.

The Sexy Dance is the one-woman show written and performed by Joanne O'Sullivan. The play is about Diane Hinks. Like voyeurs, the audience finds itself watching Diane getting ready for her date. We are privy to the expected arrival of her caller (8 o'clock). We watch the clock slightly off center-stage tick away the moments as Diane regales whoever is listening with stories that are at times funny, sometime painfully reflective to us all.

Diane curls up on her outspread futon and reminds everyone what it was like to break up with someone. Oh God girl, don't I know what it is like to not feel like "I will survive." Just as she has dipped into one memory, Diane skirts around to another. "David was nice", she says, "but he had no zing. Can you grow zing?"

The Sexy Dance has great potential, but unfortunately it lacks flowing energy, it lacks zing. Storytelling, (The Sexy Dance is essential a play about stories being told) is about ebbing and flowing. Good storytellers tie words together like a tapestry. The thread of one tale ties into another. Quality is in the craft. The Sexy Dance needs to be crafted more. It needs to be edited.

I began aware of the clock slowly ticking away the time oh so slowly... (yawn). When Diane's date did not arrive at 8 o'clock, I wanted to bolt from my seat and ring the doorbell myself.

A one-person show is difficult, something that only a seasoned performer should really tackle. It takes a lot to keep a group focused and, without zing and flow, the audience is easily lost. That is, unless you stack the audience with everyone who is your friend or wants to be your friend, and they laugh when they think they should laugh while missing the true humour. Friends then cheer and shout with standing ovations. It is easy to tell who friends are: they are the ones standing while the rest of us thank God that the date finally arrived and Diane could leave the stage.

Carol Lempert, the director of The Sexy Dance is no stranger to the task of a one-woman show. She recently took the stage in her solo performance of That Dorothy Parker at the Canadian Stage Company. Carol knows the craftsmanship it takes to go solo, and yet her experience didn't fall into The Sexy Dance.

Editing, reworking, and flow along with Joanne's and Carol's talent could make this mediocre play a stronger and more presentable piece of work.

The Sexy Dance is a nice play but it lacks zing. Can you grow zing?




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