There is Camp. There is High Camp. And then there are Jimmy Janowski et al in Charles Busch’s “Cleopatra,” Buffalo United Artists’ current production at Alleyway Theatre, which takes Camp to a whole new level. This is the Sears Tower of Camp (isn’t it called something else now?). The K2 of Camp. It is a hoot and a half without a doubt. The drama! Cleo’s costumes! The intrigue! Cleo’s costumes! The betrayals! Cleo’s costumes! The illicit love affairs! Cleo’s costumes! Although, I must say that little blue getup on Adam Hayes as Apollodorus is a sight to see, as are his nether regions. And how did the Buffalo Bills get into the act? Ah, more intrigue.

The play follows the history of Caesar, Marc Antony, Octavian and the Queen of the Nile as they jockey for the spoils of Rome and Egypt. They talk of love and honor and how to best screw the other guy. That they spoke of the Colosseum when the action takes place in 44 BC and Vespasian didn’t begin building it until 70 AD is a minor error in this otherwise historically accurate and very serious production. Ummhmm. And you can bet your last jar of kohl on that.
 
Mr. Janowski – do I need to say he plays Cleopatra? - vamps his way through in all those costumes and all his glory, and even gives us a song or two. He is a delight. I think I may have heard Blanche DuBois and Tallulah on occasion, and loved the Chinatown bit and the silver onesy.

The cast overacts and overreaches in just about every way, as well they should. There seemed to be a bit of confusion at times as to who was to say what when, and the script creaked a bit in parts. On the other hand, Antony (Michael Seitz) wore gold cowboy boots and fumbled with his toga and his crotch incessantly, and Lepidus (Guy Tomassi, who also played Caesar and Calpurnia) had a very trippy speech pattern and wore women’s 1950s glasses. Where else would you see that? This controlled chaos is directed by Todd Warfield.
 
The rest of the cast: Michael Blasdell/Bebe Bvlgari (Charmion), Maria Droz (Isas), Adam Hayes (various, and doesn't he look like Stanley Tucci?) and Timothy Patrick Finnegan (Octavian/Octavia) played their various parts to the hilt, hamming it up in a most enjoyable manner. All is done with a grain of salt and a twinkle in the eye.
 
The god Anubis oversees this whole business from his stage set frieze, most likely worrying that these people might end up in the Afterlife with him, and wondering what in the hell he’ll do with them. Ha!
 
You can see this Buffalo United Artists' production at the Alleyway Theater, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm until April 8. Bring your sense of humor.
 

Cleopatra

Weekly: Fri, Sat
(ends Apr 8th)
Alleyway Theater
1 Curtain Up Alley Buffalo, NY 14202
Cleopatra, by Charles Busch Directed by: Todd Warfield  Starring: Jimmy Janowski, Bebe Bvlgari, Maria Droz, Timothy Patrick Finnegan, Adam Hayes, Michael Seitz, Guy Tomassi   Tickets:… details »