Friday, 3 February 2017

THE HARD PART: Ehrhardt’s revealing, superfunny Cock Tales enlightens and satisfies

PLEASE, PLEASE ME: Ehrhardt spins juicy, full-throttle entertainment in her must-see new show.

Men and women across the globe have countless names for that special part of the male anatomy. The johnson, the schlong, the woody, the buddy. Debra Ehrhardt likes to call it “the one-eyed snake.” In her new one-woman show, Cock Tales: Shame On Me, a frank, insightful and superfunny send-up of misadventures in the world of Tom’s Dick and Harry’s, the veteran writer-actress doesn’t skimp on the revealing stuff, taking us on a wild and bumpy ride that, in the end, lucidly explains why she has such a love-hate relationship with the penis.

She’s not alone. At the end of Wednesday night’s performance at the Jamaican Shopping Club Theatre in Kingston, dozens of women made a beeline for Debbie outside the theatre to tell her how much the show (directed by My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Joel Zwick) resonated with them and made them hark back to some of their very own episodes with the sausage and meatballs – and the pleasure and pain which they’ve become synonymous.

Whether she’s reminiscing on her coming-of-age years in Jamaica with a mother and grandmother who never talked about sex (rebuking anything deemed even slightly immoral) or singling out certain men from her past for “special mention”, Ehrhardt takes such a delightfully self-deprecating approach to the subjects at hand that you can’t help but admire her courage and her ability to pepper her writing with wit and comedic élan. This is a woman with cojones.

We are introduced to naughty Uncle Steve, who enjoys a game of “show you mine, show me yours” up in a mango tree; the restless grandpa who leaves Grandma for Miss Ting, the Chinese lady next door; and Pastor White, who has a thing for nice little girls. By age 13, Debbie has been convinced that the way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach, but through his loins.
By the time our heroine moved to the States at age 18, she was more than a firm believer. During a train ride, she sits next to a man (a suit-and-tie with a copy of the Wall Street Journal) who offers to give her a peep-show. But nothing could prepare here for the elderly client in Connecticut (when she takes a job as a private nurse) who gives new meaning to the term “dirty old man” and proves that there’s life down there at 96 – Viagra not included.

Relating these tales and more (even throwing a brief marriage into the mix), Ehrhardt, under Zwick’s free-handed direction, spins juicy, full-throttle entertainment that gives you something to laugh about and ponder. If you’re a “prude,” then you’re certainly in for a rude awakening.

My only quibble is that the performance (clocking in at about an hour and 15 minutes, no intermission) could have been about ten minutes longer. Not that we’re complaining about the size, but we wanted more.

Still, Cock Tales is an immensely satisfying show that, like Jamaica Farewell, proves that Debra Ehrhardt, the solo performer, has spunk, spark and real talent. Tyrone’s Verdict: B+

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