Ten minutes into the dress rehearsal of the Yale Cabaret’s “Pamela Precious: A Balls-out Love Story,” I thought I might have hit the jackpot, might have finally arrived at the moment every theater critic dreams of — the chance to write a really bad review. Something extravagantly and enthusiastically mean. Something along the lines of Zachary Fuhrer’s ’11 “‘Monty,’ flaccid, still somehow performs,” perhaps.
All the pieces seemed to be in place: the two lead men (Brian Hastert DRA ’09 and playwright Matt Moses DRA ’09), high school teachers and childhood friends, are unsympathetic, boring caricatures of the wimp and the creepy asshole. The dialogue is stilted and the plot is too insubstantial to be significant and too weird to be funny. Ditsy Pamela (Rachel Spencer DRA ’10), their fellow teacher and object of both men’s love, is clearly talented but her part is irritating, predictable and (self-consciously) misogynistic.
But then, right around the time the jerk chem teacher (Moses) is cutting off one of his buddy’s testicles on the chemistry lab table in an alleged attempt to help said buddy get over Pamela, two things happened.
First, I experienced a taste of some of that sick universal human desire to witness my fellow man doing stupid and potentially self-destructive things. Watching grad students perform amateur surgery on each others’ genitalia is sort of fun, actually, like watching “Jackass.”
Second, I started feeling sympathetic. Picture this: you’re struggling, impoverished Yale Drama School students, soon to be struggling, impoverished artists eager to change the world with theater but jaded because everyone just wants to go see the latest mediocre James Bond movie. So you decide to blow off some steam and write a ridiculous play full of immature humor so that all your struggling, impoverished friends can take a break and laugh at you running around the Cab chasing a plastic bouncy ball that you’re pretending is your left testicle. It may not be high art, but it’s a worthy goal, if not necessarily worth your time.