Six Characters in Search of a Meaningful Anything

One Hot Summer

By Dale Johnson
Directed by Russell Dobular
Horse Trade Theater Group in association with DJCG, LTD.
Kraine Theatre
85 East 4th Street (between Bowery & 2nd Avenue) (539-7686)
Non-union production (closes Dec. 3)
Review by Doug DeVita

When one rents a porn video, one can fast-forward to the good stuff without having to sit through the banal dialogue and dreadful acting that are the usual hallmarks of the genre. And at the very least, any self-respecting piece of pornography accepts itself as such and makes no claim to sophisticated social relevance. Not so with Dale Johnson's One Hot Summer, which has the audacity to parade as a dramatic comedy that explores how love, sex and marriage figure in the new millennium when it is nothing more than a soft-core porn script translated badly to the stage. Every hot button of the times is haphazardly thrown into the mix as three very different, very cliched New York couples share more than a beach house in the Hamptons with all of the predictable conflicts erupting in three-minute intervals of excruciating dialogue, ending in a superfluous sexual situation.

Characterizations are a mass of contradictory motivations, the plot details are inconsistent and sloppy, and the level of intended humor rarely rises above the following exchange: "I told you it was in my Gucci bag - Well I'm sorry but I don't read Italian."

Directed by Russell Dobular with no sense of style, subtlety or substance, to say nothing of sensuality, the attractive cast of twentysomethings had nothing to do but expose (pun intended) an aggregate acting ability that qualified them all for charter membership in the Future Porn Stars of America Society.

Mark Hankla's set was an attractive representation of an East End cottage; Alan Baron's gold- and blue-toned lighting set all the proper moods; Jenny Nolan and Terolyn Leisa Thompson's costumes were plentiful and stylishly attuned to the characters, at least while they wore them.

If one enjoys titillation without any intelligent human contact, then one might enjoy One Hot Summer. But then again, turning on the air conditioner and renting a video would provide much the same experience at a fifth of the price. A safer bet for a satisfying theater experience playing at this same theatre on Wednesday evenings is the delightful sketch revue Six Characters in Search of a Working Title. At least that has life, wit and brains.

(Featuring Amy Gunderson, Charles Holt, Eve Kerrigan, Korey Knecht, Masha Sapron, Sonia Sapsis, and Anthony Ventola.)
Box Score:

Writing: 0

Directing: 0

Acting: 0

Set: 2

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2000 Doug DeVita