Review: ”GGG: Dominatrix for Dummies,” and the Fringe Patron Picks.

''GGG: Dominatrix for Dummies'' may sound like crude sex humor, but it's more sentimental than exploitative. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO – When you read that a play has been titled “GGG: Dominatrix for Dummies,’’ gut instinct might tell you that the show is a kind of wild and raunchy comedy, diving head first into a high level of comedic shock value meant to startle the audience – campy, naughty and erotic.
I had, I admit, the wrong impression of what this one-woman show was going to be like. Some Fringe plays love naughty, crude, XXX-rated humor for its own sake – to see how much they can make the audience laugh and squirm at the same time. ”GGG’’ has the outward appearance of offering the same thing. With its posters of a woman clad only in black leather and a whip in her, it seems to be promising exactly the same thing.
But it doesn’t.
In fact, it offers a whole lot more.
To be sure, the one woman play by Eleanor O’Brien isn’t afraid to be explicit in discussing the rather bizarre, frequently disgusting, fetishes that some men want behind closed doors with a dominatrix. As a dominatrix in training, Eleanor – known in the show as Margaret – has to do her absolute best to provide those customers with the satisfaction they’re eagerly looking (and paying) for, but at times you’re far more likely to pity her than what her masochistic customer is experiencing.
But ”GGG” is far more than dirty sex talk, titillation and gross-out gags – in fact, there really isn’t much of any of that. It’s actually the saga of a woman who twice goes in search of a career, doesn’t succeed either time … and then goes through something of an epiphany. It’s not so much about career, she realizes, as attitude.
Margaret is an aspiring actress, who thinks she’s done everything right: gotten a Master’s degree in acting, memorized soliloquies by Lady Macbeth, hired an agent, done television commercials and brief roles in ”Law and Order,’’ and booked time with casting directors. But she tends to get those cursed words all the time: ”You’re not Hollywood-ready.’’ Margaret interprets that as being a less than subtle complaint that she’s too fat – which she definitely is not – and she spends more time dancing in New York City’s smoky nightclubs on the dance floor than in front of the television or movie cameras.
Being a huge fan of the Craig’s List web site marketplace, Margaret loves scanning the ads – including the help wanted ads. That’s where she discovers a quite unusual one – for women who are available to become a dominatrix. Intrigued, she views that as yet another form of acting – putting on a dominating persona, creating a character, for the men who come for the show. She decides to apply.
Margaret finds herself in over her head, in part because of the rather extreme tastes of the men who want to be abused. Some of the more veteran women have their acts down pat, but Margaret never quite knew that the Marquis de Sade had it correct when he chronicled some rather outré fetishes in books like ”The 120 Days of Sodom.’’
But she also discovers something unique about herself – about what she truly wants to be. She used to read those Craig’s List ads and see that so many people wanted to hire nannies – not a bad job, she thought, if it didn’t involve children. By the end of her brief tenure as a whip lady, she’s starting to think that being nurturing might be up her alley after all.
And that’s what leads Margaret to her true calling in life – one that’s both hilarious and a believable career path, as it turns out.
”GGG” is surprisingly sweet and sentimental for a play about sadomasochism and the women who either enjoy or make a living off tormenting eager men. If the subject matter sounds ripe for cheap exploitation, O’Brien instead finds it ideal for a funny and revealing look at what we discover about ourselves once we start opening more doors than we ever expected to in life. O’Brien, whose performance is high energy, daring and superb — bills her piece as “sex positive theater,’’ and that it is, in that the point isn’t to frown on sexual fetishes, but rather to suggest to each his own – if only we had the courage to be positive about ourselves, regardless of our sexual interests.
And you’re likely to find yourself completely wrapped up in the clumsy, funny, and touching story of one woman’s efforts to salvage a tanking acting career – in ways she had never expected.
The 21st annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival had its closing full day on Sunday, but continues today with the Patron’s Picks, or shows that did the best box office in each venue. Those shows will have a final repeat performance today. The schedule is:
11 a.m. in the Silver Venue – “LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.”
12:45 p.m. in the Green Venue – “BLUE & TOD: TOO DRUNK TO FRINGE.”
2 p.m. in the Pink Venue – “JOAN CRAWFORD’S HOUSE PARTY.”
3:15 p.m. in the Brown Venue – “FOSGATE, FERRET LOAN OFFICER.”
4:30 p.m. in the Orange Venue – “CELEBRITY SQUARES.”
6 p.m. in the Patron’s Room – “THE WORST SHOW IN THE FRINGE.”
6 p.m. in the Blue Venue – “REDLIGHT-THE BAD GIRLS OF BROADWAY.”
7:15 p.m. in the Yellow Venue – “CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL.”
8:30 p.m. in the Red Venue – “MY EXPLODING FAMILY.”
Then at 10 p.m. the festival closes for the year with the 2012 Fringe Happy Endings Show.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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