Candy & Dorothy

By David Johnston. Dir. Kevin Newbury. With Vince Gatton, Sloane Shelton, Nell Gwynn. Theater Three.

CANDY MAN Gatton savors a pearl necklace.

CANDY MAN Gatton savors a pearl necklace. Photo: Rahav Segev

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

The exciting young actor Vince Gatton gave one of last year's most memorable Off-Off Broadway performances as a diffident cartoonist in David Johnston's compelling Busted Jesus Comix. Now, in Johnston's Candy & Dorothy, he plays a far more extroverted character—the fetching transsexual Warhol superstar Candy Darling—with equal aplomb, offering a winsome portrait of determined glamour. (When flattered, he delightedly flashes a double-rowed, pin-up-girl smile.) Dead since 1974, Johnston's Candy is a postlife bureaucrat assigned to welcome a more recent arrival to the heavenly host: the Christian social activist Dorothy Day, played with effortless conviction by the gruffly soulful Sloane Shelton.

The fascination generated by Candy & Dorothy's perfectly mismatched title characters—of whom Candy is in many ways the less radical—helps disguise the occasional shortcomings of Johnston's metaphysical buddy comedy. The scenes between Darling and Day are fresh, charming and informative; but the play loses focus when our heroines descend to haunt the Lower East Side, offering life lessons to a bright but troubled librarian named Tamara (Gwynn, also very good). The interactions among Tamara and her ghosts lack heft and internal consistency, and while director Kevin Newbury draws terrific work from his actors, his bare-bones physical staging is not always clear. Such deficiencies are forgivable in a $15 Off-Off production, but Candy & Dorothy has potential for a longer run. The talented Johnston should consider some revisions if the play is to have the afterlife it deserves. —Adam Feldman