nytheatre.com review by Paul Hagen
Imagine one of your favorite eccentric
female characters of the theatre (a Mame Dennis or Dolly Levi, for
example) in all her effervescent glory: especially her penchant for
taking leaps of faith and dealing with the unconsidered consequences
with a glamorous sense of optimism reserved for the truly fabulous. Trap
this person in the body of a man and you've got Kathryn. Make her
already scandal-weary family deal with his sudden transformation from
family man to tranny man and you've got Daddy Kathryn.
August 15, 2003
The play is at its strongest when it goes for the jokes—classic personality clashes amongst a typically atypical Southern Family, rip-roaring insults and deliciously irreverent abandonment of political correctness (Kathryn's alcoholic daughter at one point introduces her newborn, "I was jumping on the bed trying to have a miscarriage, but I'm so glad it didn't work.") However, I'm happy to say that playwright James McGuire challenges himself to play more than just his strongest suit by confronting the realities of his characters' situations. At times this leads to missteps (the narrator, Kathryn's son Mark, has a tendency toward tedious confessional monologues); but at other times McGuire finds breathtaking clarity (Kathryn's confession that she used to rent a hotel room, dress in drag and try to work up the courage to go fill her ice bucket is particularly stirring).
But one walks out of the play remembering the delicious bites far more than the sour bits. Any trouble one might have with the contrived-sounding mafia vs. FBI plot early in the play (although apparently the play is based on a true story) is amply made up for by the belly laughs to follow as Kathryn charges full-steam ahead through her transformation into womanhood. Kudos to Laura Poe for her pitch-perfect (and laugh-out-loud funny) portrayal of Kathryn's daughter, and to Robert English, whose fantastic energy keeps one trying to continually unravel the chaotic storm of transsexuality and determination of Kathryn him/herself.