Tales from the Fringe: That Dorothy Parker

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08/22/2008 1:21 PM |

Here’s the L’s Mary Block, with one more review from the Fringe Festival, continuing through the end of the weekend.

Carol Lempert worships Dorothy Parker, and, to fully appreciate her one-woman show inhabiting and glorifying the Constant Reader, it’s best if you do, too. Following the many details of Parker’s life that are packed into the 90 minute show (hirings, firings, marriages, breakups, etc.) is easiest if you already care what happens to her, or if you harbor a deep-seated nostalgia for the Algonquin Round Table and the heyday of the New York media luminary. If not, there are a few opportunities for a nap between the famous quips and the Spanish Civil War.

Lempert’s obvious adulation serves her well: she embodies Parker fully from mid-Atlantic accent to cocktail-brandishing braggadocio without resorting to caricature, simultaneously filling the otherwise-unpopulated stage with the ciphers of Alexander Wolcott, Ernest Hemingway and Harold Ross. The undertaking is enormous, but Lempert wrote the part for herself (which helps to explain the show’s anecdotal overabundance). Period-perfect costumes and scratchy jazz aid in the transformation of the Soho Playhouse to midtown speakeasies, with the war in Spain tearing into the hazy, gin-soaked reverie just as it did in Parker’s life. That Dorothy Parker is a loving look back, a giddy nostalgic escape for the right audience (and for the wrong audience, but with more sighing and watch-checking).

That Dorothy Parker
Fringe Festival Venue #7: The SoHo Playhouse
Remaining Performances: 8/24@NOON