How does one even possibly sum up a lifetime of rebelliousness, happiness, savoir fare fashion sense and all around joie de vivre? Well, apparently Leslie Jordan (The Help, Will and Grace, Ugly Betty) does it quite devilishly and most properly in his own unique story-telling style – and, might I add, a style that any true Southern debutante would envy (“But then I just simply can’t think about that now, I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”) in his new one man show Fruit Fly that just opened to its world premiere at the Celebration Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. But then, Mr. Jordan certainly is the bell-est of the ball, bow-tied and wrapped in crushed red velvet, lightly and stylishly gliding across an elegantly decorated room as he quips and cants, except for maybe the loveliest and most intriguing of creatures brought to light in this autobiographical tale, the beautiful Peggy Ann, his mother.
Right from the beginning it doesn’t take much to see that clearly, Leslie is in his element, front and center, as he addresses queens, lesbians and straights alike in the subject of love and acceptance. With plenty of hilarious humor, playfulness, twists, turns, hammed up bloopers and a little bit of polite dissing, Mr. Jordan gives us a surprising, sentimental and bittersweet picture of what it was like growing up a boy who really loved being a girl in the South, with the off-handed help of his grandmother, Mary Lucille, and mother whose early sage advice was, “just don’t tell daddy.”
Do gay men really turn into their mothers? It is the question of the evening and one which has been, according to Mr. Jordan, speculated upon by wise men throughout the ages. Leslie is a brilliant story-teller and has been doing so over the years with other plays he has written and performed to acclaim such as My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies that Have Plagued My Life Thus Far. He no less delivers in Fruit Fly. Endearing and thoroughly witty, he turned out an evening that was unmistakably funny and downright honest. Oh and lest we forget, in all the details, highly fashionable.
“I don’t want to be teased, I want to be terrified,” is the statement made by Miss Estelle at the US Hair Force, that gives us the pictorial seen through the eyes of a fascinated child and just the right amount of inspiration for a boy who was always trying to get attention. No wonder he had to become an actor. Throughout, Fruit Fly is an utter “romp and reverie” – Mr. Jordan’s very own magical and varietal garden. With him we skip up, down and through his outlandish, avant-garde memory lane capturing his youngest thoughts as a darling and discerning child who shoos the dirty dog on the porch away from injuring his bright whites to instructing his mother about not allowing the hired help to wash his sports jacket – “It must be dry cleaned” – through puberty when it all “went to the shitter”, leaving home to find himself in fun loving, drag heaven city life and finally accompanied by his two twin sisters and his mother, on a gay Alaskan cruise where he discovers through Peggy Ann’s surprising, personal metamorphosis, that yes, gay men do turn into their mothers and truly, there is no one else in the world he’d rather be. It’s who you fall in love with.
Marking this tale as possibly his most special, Mr. Jordan leaves us with the significant and immeasurably enduring sentiment, quoted from our other favorite son of the South, Mr. Tennessee Williams, “A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.”
Fruit Fly is a wonderful delight and deserves to be discovered, not merely read in reviews, by audiences. The only truly saddening part of this tale is its limited engagement. Fruit Fly leaves us on February 18, 2012.
Beautifully directed by David Galligan (Los Angeles State Alliance ovation lifetime Achievement Award recipient) and featuring an award-winning design team. Scenic Design by Jimmy Cuomo; Prop Design by Michael O’Hara; Lighting Design by Matthew Brian Denman. Led by Artistic Director, John Michael Beck and Executive Director, Michael C. Kricfalusi.