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Puppetry of the Penis. (Theater review: stupid people tricks).

Puppetry of the Penis * Conceived, created, and performed by Simon Morley and David Friend * John Houseman Theatre, New York City (open run)

Marcel Duchamp was truly a genius. In fact, the French-born trickster-philosopher of 20th-century art was so smart that he probably knew, when he signed a urinal in 1917 to declare that anything can be art, that one day two 30-something Australians would tour the globe doing party tricks with their flaccid penises for paying audiences. Puppetry of the Penis evolved from adolescent games that Simon Morley and his younger brother invented into a stand-up routine performed by Morley and David Friend at a Melbourne comedy festival and then parlayed into an international sensation.

As is generally the case with conceptual art, the charm and wit of Puppetry are contained mostly in the marketing and the anticipation. The ads bill it as demonstrating "the ancient Australian art of genital origami" and announce that it picks up where The Full Monty leaves off--clever lines. The show itself is, well, a bit of an anticlimax. Two clean-cut guys with refreshingly little modesty spend the better part of an hour onstage performing tricks with their penises aimed primarily at the video camera that blows up the images so people in the back row can have a good look. The "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment on the David Letterman show can be funny, but it's over in a few minutes. Imagine if it went on for 45, and you get the idea of Puppetry of the Penis.

For gay guys, the show is especially weird because the performers pretend that we don't exist, that no one in the audience really likes looking at penises, let alone that we might have spent our lives ogling them whenever possible. Naked Boys Singing was at least created by gay guys for gay guys, even though the audience now consists largely of bachelorette parties. Puppetry of the Penis is strictly for the bachelorettes.--D.S.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Theater Review
Date:Nov 20, 2001
Previous Article:Dance of Death. (Theater review: death, where is thy sting?).
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