News Ticker

Locked Up Bitches

Chaotic fun with cats and dogs from The Bats, The Flea Theater’s resident troupe.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Ryan Wesley Stinnet (far left) and the cast of “Locked Up Bitches” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

The members of The Flea Theater’s resident acting troupe, The Bats are on display in all their energetic, scatological, unabashed glory in a new rap musical, Locked Up Bitches, which began life as a series of short plays is now at The Flea’s Siggy space.

The problem is that what might have been a very funny series of fifteen-minute skits has become an overblown, but lively, ninety-minute satirical take on the TV series Orange Is the New Black.  This time it’s the canines versus the felines all confined in a New York City pound controlled by a guard named Pubestache  (handsome Alex Haynes who—true to Bat form—appears barely dressed at one point in the show) and his goofy assistant Dogget (a sad-sack Lacy Allen).  All The Bats portray either cats or dogs.

The idea is funny and the adroitly written rap songs (by playwright Catya McMullen to music by Scott Allen Klopfenstein) and blustery, full-out hip-hop choreography (by Michael Raine, who also directed) sustain the plot intermittently along with the imaginative, colorful costumes of Eva Jaunzemis (tongue in cheek takes on the TV series) and the scenic and property contributions of Yu-Hsuan Chen.

Emma Orme and Charly Dannis (in orange) and the cast of “Locked Up Bitches” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

Bitches is set in motion when upper-crust doggy Pipsy (a cute, solid Emma Orme whose transformation into a hardened criminal, sex fiend is one of the few highlights of the show) runs away from her home and devoted fiancé Dog Jason Biggs (Philip Feldman, a very good straight man and decent singer).   Biggs searches the world for his beloved while she is ensconced in the prison-like pound.  Pipsy’s innocent façade is soon threatened when she runs into her beloved feline lover, All-Licks (Charly Dannis, displaying a good combination of passion and control).

There’s a massive intramural fight over food; an illicit pregnancy—Pouty Bitch (Xavier Velasquez) whose puppies provide peace offerings at the end of the play; and a subplot concerning the bald, hillbilly cat, Pawsatucky (Bre Northrup, doing strangeness well) who has it in for the chief chef of the pound, Bull (an over-enthusiastic Ryan Wesley Stinnett who tends to shout his lines) who attacked and shaved her in a past encounter.

The wittiest joke of the evening is the character Feelaca, a trans cat, formerly a dog, portrayed by Marcus Jones who is the most athletic dancer in the cast.

Xavier Velasquez, Alex Haynes and Lacy Allen in a scene from “Locked Up Bitches” (Photo credit: Hunter Canning)

All the good jokes get lost in the onslaught of cast members vying for their moments and looking for the audience’s approval, which admittedly was offered freely.   Bitches becomes chaotic, crude and in your face, not to mention clichéd, the clichés hiding behind dirty jokes and blatant shtick.  Raine clearly can’t rein in the cast’s enthusiasm even though they are portraying animals with animal passions.

As usual, The Bats give their all but can’t quite keep this mishmash from falling apart, despite a well-meaning, we’re-all-brothers-under-the-skin coda that was totally out of synch with the madness that precedes it.

If anarchic theater is your thing, this is the show for you.  Locked Up Bitches certainly isn’t dumb, just unruly.

Locked Up Bitches (through April 28, 2018)

The Flea Theater

The Siggy, 20 Thomas Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-226-0051 or visit http://www.theflea.org

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (261 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.