REVIEW: Captive Barbies

I will be honest: the last Basement Arts performance on North Campus left me with a lukewarm feeling. When I sat down in the familiar theater seats in the Walgreen Drama Center, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Believe me when I tell you: GO SEE THIS PLAY.

captive barbiesThe advertisement is fairly representative of what you’re getting yourself into–it’s flamboyant, outrageous, and there is not hint of the opposite sex from start to finish. We begin with Lee, a gay prostitute who escapes from a cop (Larry) once he forces Larry to confront his closeted past and present. From there we watch a relationship between Mitchell and Darrell explode as a love triangle involving Larry is involved.

I won’t spoil anything, but the story gets juicy without being convoluted.

Captive Barbies is a black comedy. Make no mistake, this is indeed one of the darkest comedies you will encounter. The only similarity I can think of off the top of my head is Little Miss Sunshine, with the way it threatens death and suicide, juxtaposed with the pain of rejection.

Yet the play is simultaneously hilarious and genuine. I was pleasantly surprised–or shocked–to watch such well-developed characters. Although Mike (the Pimp) was the weakest portrayal, each of the men involved was relatable in some way.The play does a superb job of portraying each character to maximize the emotions the audience feels at the climax.

Even better, Captive Barbies is easily quotable. Whereas quoting 50 Shades of Grey is done as a joke, quotes from Captive Barbies feels more like a commentary on life. The phrase “Differing realities” becomes a synonym for “lies” and Lee’s delusional adoption of various degrees from distinguished universities is very Blue Jasmine-esque.

This is a fantastic play. Not only is the writing and directing on point, but the acting as well. If you get a chance to see this before spring break, I would highly recommend the trek up to North Campus.