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
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.