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{my lingerie play} 2017: THE CONCERT AND CALL TO ARMS!!!!!!!!! THE FINAL INSTALLATION

Annie Sprinkle meets Penny Arcade meets Reno meets John Leguizamo in the person of Diana Oh.

Diana Oh in “{My Lingerie Play} 2017 The Concert and Call to Arms: The Final Installation!!!!!!!!!” (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

David Kaufman

David Kaufman, Critic

When you enter the old, battered, upstairs Rattlestick Theater on Waverly Place, you discover it’s been transformed into a new and glittering space, with silver-lame covers on the seats, a silver tinsel backdrop, and colorful lights on the ceiling. There are also paper bags with messages on them, filling the walls and even the wide stairs of the single aisle of the 99-seat auditorium. Before you take your assigned seat, you’re even handed a bag and a marker, to create a message of your own, in response to the question: “Why do you create a safer and more courageous world for us all?” The question appears on a sign being held up by Diana Oh before her show, {my lingerie play} 2017: THE CONCERT AND CALL TO ARMS!!!!!!!!! THE FINAL INSTALLATION, begins.

Annie Sprinkle meets Penny Arcade meets Reno meets John Leguizamo in the person of Diana Oh. In her latest confessional-slash-concert, Oh first appears with large blue eye makeup (reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra), a black and red kimono that eventually comes off to reveal a red bra, which in turn comes off, exposing her voluptuous body. Oh also exposes her victimhood as a Korean-American in a “patriarchal, capitalist, cis-heteronormative society.” But if anything, she takes that victimhood to such an extreme that it’s hard to avoid feeling that she’s exploiting it.

Writing messages on bags is really just the first of many audience-participatory events. The piece begins by having us click our fingers in unison, to provide background rhythm for the first number, “Punk Rock Baby,” which produces a sort of country-rock sound. After the players introduce themselves to the audience, we are invited to “tell us your names,” and then Oh proceeds to tell us her life story, beginning with her starting to wear lingerie during her junior year of high school and her attending “vommity skank high school parties,” where she’d get wasted and make out with a girl in front of everyone before throwing up in the shower and passing out.

She was 16 years old when she began her “romance” with Jim Bobbio–and when a friend took her shopping, saying “Every girl needs a fuck-me bra.” Thus begins Oh’s long-term courtship with lingerie. While adding that it’s hard to “feel sexy as a poor person,” Oh explains that she shoplifted everything a high school student needed: “makeup, jewelry, clothing and lingerie.”

Matt Park, Diana Oh, Ryan McCurdy and Rocky Vega in “{my lingerie play} 2017 The Concert and Call to Arms: The Final Installation!!!!!!!!!” (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

It’s not until Oh went to Smith College that she became a hardcore political activist–and when she arrives there in her chronological narrative, a banner reading “Queer the World” descends from the ceiling on the rear of the stage, as we’re all invited to stand and sing along with the famous, Latin, “Convocation” song: Gaudeaumus Sigitur. (I actually could sing the first couple of verses.) She proceeds to demonstrate her political activism by inviting any audience member to have their head shaved by her, and she finds a volunteer in a “production intern,” sitting in the audience, who agrees to have “horizontal stripes across.” This also prompts Oh, at the end of the show, to remove her long, black-haired wig, and demonstrate that she, too, had part of her head shaved.

As the show progresses with intermittent songs, the other musicians/singers (Ryan McCurdy, Matt Park, and Rocky Vega) also strip down to their underwear/lingerie. The sounds they all make are, at times, infectious. And Oh is a natural-born performer, who instantly has us in her thrall. Though the show has been co-directed by Orion Stephanie Johnstone and Oh, it’s hard to imagine anyone reining in its star. And if the “first installation” of Oh’s latest show occurred when she stood on a soap-box in Times Square pontificating in 2014, it’s hard to say how it’s progressed since then. Unless you were there, you just wouldn’t know.

{my lingerie play} 2017: THE CONCERT AND CALL TO ARMS!!!!!!!!! THE FINAL INSTALLATION (through October 28, 2017)

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Rosalind Productions Inc.

Rattlestick Theater, 224 Waverly Place, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-627-2556 or visit http://www.rattlestick.org

Running time: two hours without an intermission

David Kaufman
About David Kaufman (44 Articles)
David Kaufman has been covering the theater in New York since 1981. A former theater critic for the New York Daily News, he was also a long-time contributor to the Nation, Vanity Fair, the Village Voice and the New York Times. He is also the author of the award-winning Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam, the best-selling Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door, and his most recent biography, Some Enchanted Evenings: The Glittering Life and Times of Mary Martin.

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