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A CurtainUp Review

Dr. Tango
By Laura Hitchcock

Dr. Tango, a high-spirited devilishly satirical comedy, gives new meaning to fluff . Its true magic lies in the best use of multimedia techniques seen by this reviewer, in which actors alternate with or respond to video scenes projected on the back drop. Ben Kufrin, director of photography, utililizes 24P, a technique which makes video pass as feature film.

The multimedia elements enable our heroine, uptight Dr. Judy, who has a radio sex advice show, to show us some of her call-in clients, such as Hans (Roberto Bonanni), a transvestite in a too-tight girdle, Valentina (Sabrina Bertaccini), who talks while getting into her bondage basic black and crisp tough Anita (Yvette Brooks) who takes no prisoners. Dr. Judy herself wears a pin-striped pant suit with a broad-shouldered flange jacket and one of those insipidly demure pussy-cat bows around her neck. The way she purrs into the mike intimates there's a seething tigress laced up in there.

Perhaps it's the nature of her work but Dr. Judy finds herself bored and infuriated with husband Jeff who is more into his laptop than her lap-dancing. Sha-zam! She finds herself consulting charismatic Dr. Tango, who came out of nowhere, possibly some fantasy figure from Dr. Judy's suppressed libido.

In another incarnation Dr. Tango could have been a fashion consultant, since Dr. Judy now finds herself decked out in everything from leopard skin to Western dance hall garb to the frilly mini-skirted uniform of a French maid and having a wonderful time with Dr. Tango.

This new age spoof revels in that familiar glorious mantra, "Magic is everywhere." Imagination, fantasy, variety are the keys to Dr. Tango's kingdom but he has to tackle Jeff himself before the happy ending starts.

Co-author Juliette Marshall plays Dr. Judy and who has a better right? Statuesque with an ice queen beauty that thaws like lava flow, she's the right woman in the right role at the right time. As Dr. Tango, Juan Carlos Malpeli simmers and slithers in a wonderful characterization somewhere between a jaguar from the Argentine jungles and the snake from the Garden of Eden. The satiric image is underscored in the character of Francine, Dr. Judy's mother, obsessed with face lifts and weight loss, and underplayed with deadpan single-mindedness by Jennifer Rhodes.

Image is everything in this fast-paced production from co-author/director Anthony Caldarella. Thanks to the cast and its techniques, it whizzes by too fast and funny for quibbling.

Dr. Tango
Playwright: Juliette Marshall & Anthony Caldarella
Director: Anthony Caldarella
Cast: Juliette Marshall (Dr. Judy), Christopher Cass (Jeff), Hana Trattner (Allie), Jennifer Rhodes (Francine), Diane Gaidry (Kitty), Roberto Bonnani (Hans), Yvette Brooks (Anita), Anita Byrd (Nancy), Juan Carlos Malpeli (Dr. Tango), Sabrina Bertaccini (Valentina), Jim Trattner (Gun Man).
Set & Lights: Danny Truxaw
Costume Design: Jean Lee
Cinematography: Ben Kufrin
Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Running Dates: March 12-May 1, 2004
Where: Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, Ph: (310) 285-8404
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on.March 13.
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