(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in the Village Voice, 12/8.)
Len Jenkin's The Dream Express
The Dream Express
By Len Jenkin
The Chocolate Factory
5-49 49th Avenue, Queens, 212-352-3101
Sometimes life does indeed imitate art. Sort of. For 15 years, Len Jenkin's lounge act, The Dream Express, performed by Deirdre O'Connell and Steve Mellor, has kicked around venues ranging from L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum to Cape Cod's Duck Creek Tavern. Similarly, in the show itself, divorced entertainers Spin and Marlene Milton journey from one motel bar to another. At the Chocolate Factory, here renamed the Briarpatch Lounge, they arrive to offer a dispirited evening of song, story, and black-and-white film excerpts.
Mellor and O'Connell now appear slightly long in the tooth for their hipster togs (glittery leggings for her, loud T-shirt and porkpie hat for him), which lends greater poignance to their act. They sing some original songs ("Dead Boys Don't Cry") and some covers ("Escape," "Let's Get Physical"). Between tunes, they re-enact scenes from The Invisible Man or regale the crowd with stories about brief encounters at the laundromat or lost weekends with the Devil. The material's thin and too often pitched at the same bizarro-macabre tonality. But the two are such masterful performers that you might well find yourself shouting, "Encore!"—only to experience a truly terrifying version of "I Think We're Alone Now."
(Len Jenkin’s work is part of One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)
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