Busch and Turner Take on TheThird Story

Kathleen Turner and Charles Busch serve up deliciously campy turns in Busch's latest "Hollywood of yore" play, The Third Story .

BY Mike Diamond

February 18 2009 12:00 AM ET

Kathleen Turner and Jonathan Walker in The Third Story x390 (JOAN MARCUS) | ADVOCATE.COM

Much like
Die Mommie Die!

a previous Busch work,
The Third Story

is highly stylized; characters toss out retro-isms like
"dame," "slugged," and "sitting in
clover." The show is rife with double entendres: Afraid of
getting busted, one character declares, "Any minute someone
out there is gonna finger me!"

As Queenie, Busch does
his high-camp, Bette Davis-ish, lockjawed broad shtick, and
very amusingly. Turner as well is a force to be reckoned with.
With commanding stage presence and great comic delivery ("The
last thing I mean is to be melodramatic."), she vamps her way
through the show, somehow imbuing her Peg with just the right
level of vulnerability. And her voice is as smoky, sexy, and
unforgettable as ever.

Special mention must be
made of the wardrobe. Costume designer Gregory Gale has done a
magnificent job capturing the time periods referenced in the
show, and Busch's ensembles in particular are grand and
dazzling. David Weiner's lighting design is
also impressive, with a flickering campfire and
helicopter searchlights doing much to open up the scope of the
show.

The Third Story

is fun, but imperfect. It can be a little hard to follow all of
the backstabbing and backstory, and the multiple plotlines
create a lot of exposition over heavy stretches of
time. Toward the end the show sags under the weight of tying up
so many loose ends.

Overall,
Story

is a fun romp through Busch's love affair with old-school
glamour and goofy humor.

Tags: Theater

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