Dallas — Gerry (pronounced Gary) has just arrived poolside in Palm Springs after already dipping into his weekend cocaine and downing a couple of beers. He claims to have made the drive from Los Angeles in 53 minutes. Orbiting within a constellation of exes and exes of exes and fueled by drugs, drinks, spilled tea, and an unhealthy dose of insecurity, he’s ready to face the weekend’s wedding events for his college pals Josh and Brennan.
Playwright Drew Droege’s one-man show gets its name from the instructions on the wedding invitation. (ikr?!): guests are asked to abstain from wearing bright colors and bold patterns. Gerry “translates” the directive for his ex, Dwayne: “it’s Laura Ashley for ‘God hates gays.’ ” Likening assimilation to disappearing into the background, our flamboyant antihero promises to rage, rage against the slow fade to beige.
Bright Colors and Bold Patterns stars comic character genius Paul J. Williams as Gerry. You may have met his other personas Sister Helen Holy and Nelda Pickens around town or onstage. Williams commands our attention throughout the 80-minute show. With great timing and nuance, he rouses both side-splitting laughs and earnest reflection. Marianne Galloway directs.
This show is matched with Cooties, playwright Alexandrew Recore’s romantic comedy (with a twist) produced by Flexible Grey Theatre Company as part of Uptown Players’ celebration of Gay History Month. It’s a winning combination of two very funny shows that complement each other well.
Dennis Canright’s well-suited scenic design is crowded with brightly colored tropical gobo patterns and kitschy cabana furniture. The set does double duty for both shows, but for Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, sun chairs replace the couch from Cooties. The addition of a pool ladder is a nice touch, though it was necessary for some audience members to precariously step around it on the way to their seats. Canright’s design and Kathryn Demith’s props evoke the partied-out atmosphere of another Palm Springs wedding.
With a title like Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, wardrobe supervisor Suzi Cranford had her work cut out for her, though Gerry’s clothes are not as outrageous as one might expect. Kyle Harris’ lighting design is perfectly suitable and nicely subtle in its transition from late night to early morning, though some audience members might be bothered by the use of strobe lights in one of the scenes.
Gerry’s sense of humor is very much oriented toward the sassy end of the spectrum that butts up against snarky camp. Williams pulls off the demeanor quite well in a show that demands rapid-fire delivery that’s almost like a stand-up routine. But by the end, we see moments of real honesty and vulnerability behind the flashy facade. This show promises—and delivers—all the bright colors and bold patterns of Gerry’s often over-the-top personality. Dress accordingly.
» Bright Colors and Bold Patterns runs in rotating repertory with Flexible Grey Theatre Company's Cooties
» Read our interview with Olivia Grace Murphy and Paul J. Williams
» Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is performed at 8 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday; and 8 p.m. Monday (Oct. 25-28)
» Cooties is performed at 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 26-27)
» See our Proust Offstage video with Paul J. Williams here