Contemporary crowd pleaser has audience laughing out loud
By Maggie Kulbokas
The Cape Playhouse follows its successful opening show, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" with the equally entertaining, but completely different "As Bees in Honey Drown". The play, written by Douglas Carter Beane, premiered in New York City in 1997 and is just as poignant, adult and captivating today.
"Bees" is the story of Evan Wyler, newly published and newly branded a "hot" new writer who agrees to a fateful first meeting with the thoroughly entrancing and mysterious Alexa Vere De Vere. Vere De Vere is Joan Crawford, Auntie Mame and Mrs. Robinson all in one. She's worldly and astute, clever and silver-tongued--a veritable queen bee of the New York entertainment scene. She's a music producer, she tells the wide-eyed Wyler, and she wants him--the "hot" new writer--to write the story of her life.
Wyler is taken in by Alexa's mystique and flattered by the compliments she bestows upon him. With stars and dollar signs in his eyes, Evan sees Alexa as his ticket to fame and fortune. Only trouble is, this queen bee is more of a black widow who preys on those who've been bitten by the celebrity bug--the almost famous. Behind the chic haircut, the polished accent, the name dropping and the designer suit, Alexa is nothing more than a grifter, a con woman.
And con she does--those who seek the bee-line to fame. The photographers, actors, dancers, singers and of course, writers like Evan who will do anything to be famous. The creative types who are needy and slightly damaged and want nothing more than instant celebrity. They've felt the warmth of the spotlight and as Alexa continues to fluff their egos with flattery, they are blind to what she really is.
Willing to do anything to publish a follow up to his debut novel, Evan is seduced by Alexa and soon finds himself penniless, alone and without the fame he so desperately desires.
The dialogue in "Bees" is devilishly dynamic. Douglas Carter Beane is witty and wise and his lines in the hands of the right actors are fast and funny. And the Playhouse lucked out with this experienced, although young cast.
Tony Award winner Randy Graff as Alexa Vere De Vere is divine. It's hard to take your eyes off of her and easy to understand why a wide-eyed young thing like Evan would be so easily and completely caught in her spell.
"Bees" is a cautionary tale about hopes and dreams, hard work and revenge. And about how if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. D. B. Bonds as the young and naive writer caught up in Alexa's sweet promises of celebrity is believable and likeable. Rounding out the cast, Steven Strafford, Amy Bodnar, Jamie La Verdiere and Vanessa Reseland do a solid job--each morphing into three different and distinct characters.
"Bees" is cosmopolitan and artsy, and the dash of gay sensibility makes it a smart and sassy satire. It will make you wonder why some people are put on pedestals and idolized and how they get there in the first place.
"As Bees in Honey Drown" runs now through July 7. The Cape Playhouse is located at 820 Route 6A in Dennis Village. Visit the box office online or call 508-385-3911 for reservations. Coming up next: "Ain't Misbehavin'".