An Evening with Mr. Johnson
By Michael A. Matteo
Directed by Tim Evaniki
Starring Tommy Wooten and Nathan Bonk
Parliament House Footlights Theater
When your tag line is “And Tommy Wooten as ‘The Penis,” certain standards are set. Perhaps not high ones, but they ARE standards. Men are managed by their Johnson; their partners only THINK they have a hand on the old helm but facts are facts. Note there are two versions of this show floating around central Florida; this particular one is the gay version in the venerable P-House; the hetero one opens in 2 weeks at the shiny new Dangerous Theater in Sanford. But back to tonight…
While the whole Johnson Control issue is well known and constantly debated, tonight we delve into the dialog between Ed (Bonk) and his personal Mr. Johnson (Wooten). Ed is torn over lost lovers, Sir Richard of The Lower Regions is only concerned about performance statistics, and we wonder: shouldn’t there be a Fantasy League about this popular activity? The debate is fueled by alcohol and anxiety; Ed is in love with Morgan (Steven Johnson) whose performance gets high marks for sincerity and low ones for the applause. Mr. Johnson prefers the cruising life; even if one experience is shabby there’s always a next time. The debate goes on. Jeff Jones drops in as Ed’s Jewish Mother to tidy up and guilt him into finding a stable boyfriend. And how about some food? There’s always food if you have a Jewish Mother. Morgan reappears, things heat up, Mr. Johnson is happy but we wonder: for how long?
This may well be the best P-house set I’ve seen; it’s an elegant and tasteful apartment that looks so…normal. Bonk’s Ed seems like a sweet guy and you wish him well, but it’s Mr. Wooten that steals this show. Loud, brash and constantly in full on funny guy mode, he steam rolls though any weak spots in the dialog and says just about what you would want him to say. Steven Johnson (don’t get confused, there’s more than one Johnson on this stage) seems rather bland; even when he’s in his full whoopee mode this Johnson is a quiet guy. What we need here is more of Mr. Jones’ Judaic guilt; sex is always more fun if it feels naughty. I’m looking forward to the straight version next month; I suspect the dynamics are similar even if the mechanics aren’t.
For more information on shows at the Footlights Theater, please visit http://www.parliamenthouse.com/footlight-theatre/