As they take an innocent fellow’s hand and lead him down to the Chocolate Factory’s basement digs, friendly young ladies reveal their petticoats, giggle, and promise “a show like no other on the boardwalk.” A gentleman would certainly be hard-pressed to find three “buxom and charming young lasses” more eager to trade on their tricksome talents and wily wit. Surely no other locals can boast of using a Magnetic Brainal Stimulatora gizmo-of-yore made for “sucking forth your very thoughts, even before you know you are having them.”
Throughout Old Tricks, Flora, Daisy, and Pearl (Rachel Tiemann, Alison Harmer, and Sarah Maxfield) salt their old-timey cabaret revue with sailor jokes and double entendres, heeding the mind machine’s one-track demands on behalf of the audience for pleasures like “L’amour” and “Contortion.” What ensuesfrom a lusty mermaid to a popcorn-for-votes schememakes for delightfully offbeat fun, until Flora melts down and we comprehend all the pain under the corsets. With this dramatic 180, the neo-carn veers into take-back-the-night solemnity. Such heavy-handedness needlessly overpowers the sharp male-gaze ironies of the piece’s first part, when anguish could have emerged without a belabored tone shift. Or can’t a let-down lad complain when they show him too much?