MSQ Review: The Deep Throat Sex Scandal – Zephyr Theatre

Or as we call it “The People vs. Three’s Company”

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The first mainstream adult movie to graphically depict oral sex seems like an odd choice for a play. You can go about that task one of two ways: present a straight examination of a true first amendment battle (a la The People vs. Larry Flynt) or make a campy play filed with nudity and offbeat humor. Welcome to The Deep Throat Sex Scandal or as I call it “The People vs. Three’s Company.”

Harry Reems (Marc Ginsburg) tells his story of being an out-of-work actor trapped in an off-off Broadway play hoping to hit the big time. He gets a tip from a fellow cast member to work in sex films. If nothing else, he’ll get laid. Reems meets porn director Gerry Damiano (Herschel Savage) who is looking to make a big film starring Linda Lovelace (Natasha Charles Parker), which also means dealing with her abusive husband/manager Chuck Traynor (Alec Tomkiw). That film turns out to be Deep Throat and its notoriety leads to charges of indecency. In the subsequent trial (depicted on stage opening night with Bruce Vilanch trying hard to conceal that he was reading the part of the judge from his “bench”) Reems is convicted and turns to Alan Dershowitz (also Mr. Savage) to help in his appeal. Also making a cameo on opening night was Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland as the cashier at a theatre showing Deep Throat. Apparently, she had nothing else to do.

The positioning of this play is set well before the show starts. Outside the theatre fake protestors carry signs that say “God Hates Porn” and chant slogans that make it very clear they aren’t serious. Once inside, the tone shifts so regularly it is almost dizzying. The Deep Throat Sex Scandal doesn’t know what it wants to be. There are moments that rival The Rocky Horror Show for camp while others seem like playwright David Bertolino was trying to write this generation’s Inherit the Wind.

The schizophrenic feel of The Deep Throat Sex Scandal doesn’t help its cast. Not sure whether to play it straight or for laughs, the actors struggle valiantly to come up with appropriate performances. It’s a losing battle that director Jerry Douglas hasn’t solved. When prosecutor Larry Parrish (Frank Blocker) is making his closing argument to convict Reems, his performance is so wildly over-the-top that any jury that saw that performance, while entertaining and satirical, would never choose to convict.

If all else fails, take off your clothes – which they do. That might be the only way this show finds an audience. It’s about fellatio, it features male and female nudity, and it pretends to be controversial. The show is such a mess that I regularly heard cast and crew talking backstage as if wondering what to do next. If you are wondering what to do, don’t get sucked into DTSS


An earlier version of this review incorrectly referred to prosecutor Larry Parrish as Charles Keating.

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Comments

  1. Amy

    February 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    The author of this article incorrectly used the term schizophrenic to refer to (I think) a split personality. Split personality is not a feature of schizophrenia. It’s hard to take in the review given this casual yet commonplace misuse of verbiage.

  2. Erin

    June 21, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Perhaps you’d enjoy it more as a film? http://igg.me/at/nakedtruth