What unfolds as the play begins is less about who is the queen of bingo and more about two women on the other side of 50, Sis and Babe, who have come ready to play and hoping to win. They are sisters by birth, but that is about all that they have in common. Sis, the older of the two, is a svelte, composed woman who seems quite content with bingo nights as a past-time to fill in the gaps of loneliness she might otherwise experience. By contrast, Babe is overweight, on edge and not at all content with just playing bingo…she wants to win. Both, experienced players who regularly sit together at the same table display their collected good luck charms, lucky trolls, colorful daubers and magnetic bingo chips, for easy pick up,…all part of the fun and accessories recognizable to any diehard bingo fan.
While Sis, played with a fine sense of timing by Anne Marie Waxman, thoroughly enjoys the social aspects of bingo nights as much as the possibility of winning some money or prizes, the obvious pleasure she takes in gossiping about and keeping an eye on other players is disrupted by the emotional volatility of her sister. Babe, it seems, has just come off another of her binge battles with food, sugar and self-loathing which accounts for her mood swings. She easily fluctuates between the exciting anticipation of winning big at bingo and her fear of running into Coach Anderson, a would-be paramour who she is desperately avoiding due to stated discomfort with her current appearance. Cier Rice does wonderfully as Babe and brings to her performance a range of expressions that move the audience from sympathy with her laments about her weight problem, to laughter at her antics stemming mostly from easily pushed emotional buttons.
Lasting a laugh-filled ninety minutes, THE QUEEN OF BINGO had its beginnings in the mid-1990s in small, off-Broadway theaters in New York. It is currently being performed professionally all over the United States by two male actors who portray Sis and Babe in drag. Though the professional touring group is receiving great reviews for their energetic performance, I believe audiences coming to the DCP production will appreciate the amusingly capable performances of this gender-correct cast. Adding to the fun of the DCP performances, running from July 23 to August 8, is an opportunity for an audience member to win a frozen turkey playing bingo during in the Middle Bird special which takes place between the first and second act and just prior to the intermission. Get your bingo card with your ticket at the Dutch Country Playhouse on Ridge Road in Telford, PA.
THE QUEEN OF BINGO
Comedy by Jeanne Michels and Phyllis Murphy
Directed by Jason Salotti
July 23 – August 8, 2010
795 Ridge Road