Do Me A Little
nytheatre.com review by Nathaniel Kressen
August 12, 2012
There are certain shows that seem particularly well suited to the FringeNYC Festival. They get huge mileage out of a barebones design concept, appeal to a core demographic that helps to ensure a sizable audience, and provide a healthy dose of both humor and substance. The tremendously entertaining Do Me A Little is exactly this type of show.
In addition to writing the play, Marissa Kohn plays Mandy, a newlywed Mormon who cannot wait to finally lose her virginity. Her new husband Brigham (Trey Gerrald), however, insists they should rather get enough rest for their early departure the following morning, and noticeably pulls away every time she attempts to become intimate. In the pirate-themed honeymoon suite chosen by Brigham that Mandy calls “super gay,” she pursues her goal in every way she can imagine – from dancing seductively in a pirate hat, to admitting to having watched pornography for educational purposes, to unveiling the edible panties Brigham’s mother gave her at her bridal shower. Each and every time, however, Brigham invokes either their religion or her dirty mindedness as a reason not to consummate their relationship. She then grows self-conscious about her weight, despite having lost more than 60 pounds ahead of their ceremony. He tries to console her but only succeeds in driving her to the brink of leaving. In the heat of the moment he admits to a truth that shatters them both, and threatens to end their marriage before it even gets started. Only their faith keeps Mandy from leaving, as Brigham convinces her to pray with him for guidance and support.
Without introducing any spoilers, Brigham’s confession can be anticipated within the first moments of the production. Nevertheless, Kohn and Gerrald endow the show with such genuine and heartfelt performances that this lack of surprise ends up not mattering. Rather, the script focuses on the reasons why each of them suppressed their inner lives in favor of a path more acceptable to their families and faith, and how they might balance their competing needs for safety and for freedom now that they are at last communicating openly. In an especially effective choice, there is such tenderness between the two – even in their most contentious moments – that it becomes clear why they united in the first place. Throughout, their relationship is absolutely endearing to the audience, and it proves as difficult for the viewer to accept that their relationship might not be meant to last as it does for them.
Kohn’s script is clever, sincere, and well structured. There were some minor moments that seemed less than fully realized – such as Brigham’s credit card being declined by the hotel without further inquiry from Mandy as to what this could mean for her as his wife – but in all cases these could be easily remedied. More importantly, she touches on a number of themes with seeming effortlessness, all the while keeping it easily digestible. Audiences of Do Me A Little will find themselves privy to an examination of the role of the Mormon doctrine in present day society, a debate on women’s right to use birth control, an argument over the opportunities given to men over women, as well as a number of other hot button issues. At the same time, they’ll be rolling in the aisles at Kohn’s pitch-perfect brand of comedy.
David Alpert’s direction is sharp and capable, especially in the more subtle moments when each confesses their connection to an off-stage character (note: one of the strongest devices of the script). Production designer Gregg Cook lends a tremendous service to the production, framing the play in exactly the right atmosphere and wardrobe.
One can easily see this play succeeding in a longer run, but without a producing organization listed in the program Do Me A Little seems to be driven solely by the passion and talent of the creative team. Therefore, make it out while you can, as there’s no guarantee it will return. This show is definitely one of the highlights of my FringeNYC experience thus far.