When playwright Kris Andersson and his Tupperware Lady alter ego “Dixie Longate” debuted their “one-woman” show Dixie’s Tupperware Party at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, little did they realize that ten years later, their comedy confection would earn a slot at Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse. As to whether it merits a run at one of L.A.’s most prestigious regional houses … Well, I’ll say this for Dixie and her honest-to-gosh Tupperware party: There are far less entertaining ways to spend an evening at the theater than in the presence of the trailer-trashy redhead and her multi-colored plastic bowls, canisters, jars, and other assorted gadgets.
Dixie’s Tupperware Party is a little bit autobiography (we learn of her jailbird past, her multiple marriages, and her offspring Wynona, Dwayne, and little Absorbine, Jr.), quite a bit audience participation (and not just from those who get to sit onstage throughout, including one “lesbian” per party), and a whole lot raunchy (though a charming Alabama drawl can make even “rimming” contests, tumblers “ribbed for your pleasure” and the inability of one of Dixie’s acquaintances to go to bed on winter nights without “some hot Dickens Cider” seem almost PG).
Though Dixie’s Tupperware Party is more comedy-club stand-up than Geffen Playhouse sit-down, it does score points for female empowerment, as Dixie recounts the inspiring true-life story of saleswoman extraordinaire Brownie Wise, who not only came up with the Tupperware party concept, she became the first woman to grace the cover of Business Week because of it.
It takes only a bit of reading between the lines to realize that playwright and performer are one and the same, though if you’re anything like this reviewer, you’ll quickly forget that Andersson’s Dixie is anything other than all woman, so perfectly does he fit into her Southern-gal-big-haired, Donna Reed-frocked persona, and since Andersson-as-Dixie has indeed been honored as the nation’s #1 Tupperware Party-giver, where fact and fiction meet is anyone’s guess.
Patrick Richwood directs Dixie’s Tupperware Party with pizzazz, Anderrson-as-Longate has honed his/her act to razor-sharp perfection, and Tupperware is indeed for sale on the way out for those inclined to buy. (Some of Dixie’s wares are indeed tempting, albeit pricey.)
Scenic design-free, Dixie’s Tupperware Party benefits from (respectively) Richard Winkler and Christopher K. Bond’s expert lighting and sound designs. Dixie’s big red do is courtesy of hair designer Rebecca A. Scott.
Dixie’s Tupperware Party is a touring production, with Michelle Helberg serving as tour manager.
Some will likely argue that Dixie’s Tupperware Party isn’t exactly the caliber production the Geffen Playhouse owes its audience, and I’m not sure I’d disagree. Still, there’s no denying that the party is a crowd-pleaser.
Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles.
July 10, 2014
Photo: Bradford Rogne