Toronto
2 min

Limp dick

The passion never really sizzles

MEL BROOKS BUTCH. Jane Moffat plays gumshoe Addie Clark in The Dick's A Dame. Credit: Pamila Matharu

“What if Bogie were a dame, see? But still wanted Bacall?”



This titillating question sets the stage for The Dick’s A Dame, a spoof of film noir classics. It becomes a rhetorical, rather empty query that is never fully explored stylistically in a play that has some fun comic moments but often disappoints by never fully delivering the initial lesbian content that could have enlivened the script considerably.



Jane Moffat, co-writer and lead character, seems to have chosen an acting style evoking a kind of fast-paced, parodic, almost vaudevillian tone. Had she gone with a mixture of Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall her lines might have come off as sultry and intriguing; predictable jokes might have found their strength within a contrasting mixture of stylish delivery and corny comedy.



The very simple staging, comprised by a dark bare stage, has some very effective moments: a morgue is comically suggested by three actors standing with sheets over their heads, followed by a trio of umbrellas coming out from under the sheets to resemble a funeral gathering. But director Sue Miner’s successful attempts at setting the scene cannot make up for an uneven production that relies entirely on straightforward parody and not enough upon careful choices regarding pacing and acting style.



The ensemble cast in this Femme Fatale production makes a valiant attempt at presenting sharp physicality evoking simple, effective mise en scène. But Moffat and Cheryl McNamara’s script fails them because the central relationship is far too underplayed in the writing and the physicality.



The Dick’s A Dame requires a more acute approach to character and motivation. If, in fact, Bogie were a dame and she still wanted Bacall, wouldn’t there be melodramatic physical and emotional intrigue filling the stage with smouldering sexuality and comic innuendo?



There is one very funny moment that falls a little short due to rapidly paced, un-varied delivery. When the dick finally comes on to the dame in explicit terms, various foodstuffs, including clams, make for a ribald moment – a more layered variety of acting styles are in order to create mood, tension and lasting humour. As it stands, the play moves along quickly and serves up a menu of jokes that have spectators laughing here and there.



So if you like your dicks as dames and you don’t mind passion that never really sizzles then this is a mystery for you to conquer. My tastes run more to the slightly less one-dimensional side of intrigue where dicks, dames, Bogie and Bacall deliver a smorgasbord of titillation rather than a somewhat un-textured bit of fun.



* The Dick’s A Dame continues until Sat, May 31 at Tim Sims Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way); call (416) 343-0011.