Directed by Nick Demos
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
A slice of gay life or for that matter any selective lifestyle is the scenario that plays out in J. D. Cerna’s solo show “Not as Cute as Picture” taking the stage at the historic Duplex in Greenwich Village. Rather than the common coming out or coming of age drama this falls more into the finding myself category in which Cerna plays himself and a multitude of other colorful characters. The show opens with some powerful energy and slick choreography from the disco eighties that delivers the audience to a place and time where the journey begins. It brought to mind the kinetic energy of an early David Drake whose word, movement, and focus defined his performance.
Cerna wastes no time introducing the first of many unique individuals he will inhabit throughout the evening. It becomes instantly obvious that his astute talent lies in physically and vocally morphing into a vast array of distinctive persona. He is quick, precise and energetic although sometimes stereotypical. The material does not provide enough substance to elicit any compassion so instead of characters they remain as personalities. When the written word is tenacious and trusted the result is effective characterization. Andy, a past companion dying of AIDS who repeatedly appears in a letter or a phone call with no physical incarnation, becomes one of the strongest characters and captures the audience’s emotional involvement. The number of characters, speed of transformation and unnecessary presence and dialogue allows for confusion and lends no insight to the storyline. Perhaps less is more.
J. D. Cerna is a talented performer and skillful illusionist who provides an enjoyable evening of entertainment. With more focus on fewer characters his story could reach deeper into the minds and hearts of his audience and perhaps have them leave the performance feeling inspired by an incredible piece of theater.