The Joan Crawford, portrayed as an aging glory and reflective upon her life, is skillfully played by Kenneth Ansloan, the show's playwright. Re-examining many of her life's plot twists and love interests, Joan meets the incarnations of her younger self, each one another evolution of the Hollywood star, as well as later coming face to face with her greatest rival, Bette Davis. At each moment, Ansloan remains true to his vision of Joan, always convincing while confronting the past.
As "Flapper Joan," Bradd Howard, the director, gleefully relives her more risque moments, including work in stag films and exploits on the directors' casting couches as she transitioned from silent movies into talkies. Coy and flippant, Howard gives his Joan the saucy flare of youth, complete with her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks, then considered Hollywood royalty. "You're common and wild," accuses the Joan, judging her past, perhaps even while relishing in it.
Giving us psychotic Joan is A.J. Carian as "Mommie Dearest Joan," including some of the memorable lines from daughter Christina's notorious tell-all, published after Joan's demise. Stealing the show in every sense, Carian's moment re-enacting Joan's cameo appearance on her daughter Christina's soap opera role is a delight. Portraying Joan, pretending to be Christina, pretending to be a soap opera actor (unprepared for her lines), the scene gives us plenty of laughter in between the other more serious moments of Joan's reverie.
The Dolls, as a troupe, are fabulous... not just in the sequins-and-lipstick sense of the word but truly as actors who are willing to push social boundaries and expectations in order to tell the tale. A "dramedy" to the end, they work from each other, taking inspiration from live moments onstage and sometimes interacting with the audience to coax our giggles into belly laughs, at times ad-libbing, even coaxing the errant character-breaking giggle from their fellow troupe member to the audience's delight.
Seating at the Aux Dog is limited and advance tickets are recommended to insure you won't miss out on the Dolls' fun, so drop by the venue's website www.auxdog.com and grab yours before the show closes on June 1st.