Reviewed by: Fest Mag
Review by Charlotte Whincup | 26 February 2024
American poet, writer and critic Dorothy Parker (portrayed by Margot Avery), renowned for her wit, tastes an adjective. "Portable", she says, makes it sound like the reader is going to "scoop [her] up and carry [her] off". The setting is New York City, 1943. Parker sits in the living room of her hotel apartment, drink in hand, reviewing selections for the forthcoming publication of the titular anthology collection of her works. She’s accompanied by an unseen editor from Viking Press to whom she recollects her famous friends, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and lovers, alongside moments from her career. Although the sole occupant of the stage, Avery does a masterful job of making the audience believe we’re the ones engaging in conversation with her. The Portable series was all Parker's husband's (the screenwriter Alan Campbell) idea. Of course, she knows he’s queer, but she “shouldn’t accuse him of sodomising the elevator boy.” Playwright Annie Lux successfully invokes Parker’s spirit in her disparagement of her reputation as a ‘wise-cracker’. Wit is “truth”, whereas wisecracking is simply “callisthenics with words.” Notice how they never show any bad angles of Glinda the Good in The Wizard of Oz? The hour-long production, directed by Lee Costello, is no chore for fans of the esteemed wit. Its entertaining duration passes so quickly it’ll make you say, “Time doth flit, oh shit.”