nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
March 8, 2007
Anyone who's ever wanted to learn how to be a full-time eBay seller should high-tail it down to Elisa DeCarlo's new solo show, Pointless Rebellion. She lays out the intricacies of selling her used clothes and footwear to male cross-dressers and foot fetishists across the country in all their unique glory. DeCarlo, who is no delicate flower, apparently has just the right girly clothes that closet transvestites are interested in. And, the foot enthusiasts don't just want her shoes: they want pictures of her feet, too. Before long, she is stuffing a free bonus gift—a pair of wet, smelly socks—into the toes of every pair she sells to customers in good standing.
But, the heart of Pointless Rebellion lies within the lifelong conflict between DeCarlo and her father, a brilliant but flawed man. Charles DeCarlo's resume is impressive—computer genius/pioneer, former university president, education advocate—but his personal life was marred by alcoholism and manic depression, which, along with his unrequited desire to be a performer, colored every interaction with his family. Young Elisa grew up feeling insecure under the pressures of her demanding patriarch, and set out to do what he couldn't: make a go of it in show business. Despite achieving that goal, DeCarlo slowly faces the reality that she may be more her father's daughter than she ever wanted to be.
Pointless Rebellion is a fascinating look at a child's futile attempt to become the opposite of a parent, the poignancy of which is communicated only intermittently during the current production. Part of that has to do with DeCarlo settling more comfortably into her performance (she had a case of opening night jitters when I saw her). Another part is attributable to the current work-in-progress nature of the piece: DeCarlo carries a script in her hand for much of the show, and alternates between full-out performance and reading at a table. While it sometimes looks as if she and director Albert Stern can't decide which of these paths to choose, it should become clearer for them as they continue the run. On the whole, though, the strength of DeCarlo's story carries the day, making Pointless Rebellion both funny and moving.