Review: ‘Psycho Beach Party’ is crazy good theater

From left, Amy Meyer plays Marvel Ann, Joey C. Pelletier plays Chicklet, and Elizabeth Battey plays Berdine. Credit: Debut Cinematic/Karen Ladany
From left, Amy Meyer plays Marvel Ann, Joey C. Pelletier plays Chicklet, and Elizabeth Battey plays Berdine. Credit: Debut Cinematic/Karen Ladany

“Psycho Beach Party,” Charles Busch’s charmingly demented homage to ’60s beach party films, feels right at home in the eccentric hands of Happy Medium Theatre Company and Heart and Dagger Productions.

Their co-production of the long-time cult favorite manages to both capture the hilarious essence of the play and truly embody the almost indefinable lowbrow kitsch that distinguishes Busch’s work from mere comic camp.

“Psycho Beach Party” (which was also adapted into a 2000 movie of the same name, starring Amy Adams) tells the story of a group of teenage girls looking for love on Malibu Beach. At the head of the pack is sexy Marvel Ann (Amy Meyer), who has no problem scoring a hunk and is the alpha babe among her pals, nerdy Berdine (Elizabeth Battey) and flat-chested, misfit “Chicklet” a.k.a. Florence (Joey C. Pelletier), who aren’t nearly as lucky in love.

When Chicklet finally begins to turn heads, it’s not because she’s hit the beach in a bikini. The aspiring surfer suffers from multiple personality disorder and every single one of her — many — personalities show up to the big luau.

Pelletier is blisteringly funny as he morphs swiftly from sweet Chicklet into his various other personas — which include a dominatrix, black check-out girl, radio talk show hostess, accountant and male model — and back again. He could easily turn this role into a cross-dressing sideshow but instead opts to play his part with great physical comedy, subtle gestures and touching authenticity.

Audrey Lynn Sylvia delivers an outrageously funny turn as Chicklet’s mother, Mrs. Forest, while Mike Budwey shines as surf legend Kanaka.

While Battey is superb as Berdine, she needs to learn to project, as some of her funniest lines were, unfortunately, nearly inaudible. Francisco Marquez also falls a bit short in his flat portrayal of beach stud Star Cat, a role he might have played with more bravado.

Despite these minor shortcomings, “Psycho Beach Party” might just be one of the best bashes of the summer. There’s not a lot of space on this blanket , however, so make sure to arrive early.

If you go

Through August 3
The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont St., Boston
$20
HappyMediumTheatre.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in…

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime of Game 4

MLB

MLB video highlights: Yankees rout Red Sox, 14-5

Felix Doubront struggles for second time in five starts

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.