Reverse Psychology
Empty Space, 3509 Fremont N, 547-7500. $20-$28. Tues-Thurs at 7:30, Fri at 8, Sat at 2 & 8, Sun at 2 & 7. Through Dec 16.

WHAT MY MOTHER feared is true: I have been corrupted by my job here at The Stranger. Several years ago I, too, might have been titillated by a pantomime of a woman getting a rim job on stage; I might have found Charles Ludlam's 1980s-era sex jokes hilarious; I might have gasped, like the rest of the audience, at Imogen Love's full-frontal (and backal) nudity. Alas, I have, in performances past, already seen Imogen nude; rim jobs are the stuff of my everyday editing; and the 1980s were a bad decade for me, sexually.

So I am the wrong audience for Empty Space's "lunatic" comedy, Reverse Psychology. In fact, Reverse Psychology is a very successful production when addressed to the audience I saw it with last weekend: white, over-40-year-old, middle-class patrons who are primed to catch all the Noel Coward references. Ostensibly, Ludlam's inspiration for Reverse Psychology ranged from such luminaries as Oscar Wilde and the Marx Brothers, but for me the script came off more like an extended Benny Hill sketch. (I should note: This reviewer hates Benny Hill, unless she is very, very drunk. No alcohol was offered at the Empty Space.)

Furthermore, with a few exceptions (the exceptions being the saintly Shelley Reynolds), the normally very talented cast marched lead-footed through the humor, camping up the already campy lines in the baldest possible way. If it matters, the plot is thus: Two psychiatrists, married to each other, separately begin affairs with two patients, who also happen to be married to one another. The couples arrive at a resort in their affair-matched designations, where (ah, Three's Company!) they bumble around for a bit before the confrontation occurs. Dr. Karen Gold (Imogen Love) produces a vial of medicine which will induce the person under its influence to be attracted to the person they are normally least attracted to. Three of the lovers take it. Nakedness ensues.

If you're like me, you'll send your mild aunt and stay home and watch What's New, Pussycat? instead.

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