The cast of Dirty, Sexy, Derby Play.
Photo-Louisville Rep. 


Dirty, Sexy, Derby Play

By Brian Walker
Directed by Darren McGee

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

It’s almost Derby time, Louisville. That time of the year where the flowers bloom, the ponies come out to play and people get a little too spirited over a two minute race. In 2008, local writer Brian Walker premiered Dirty, Sexy, Derby Play, and like the springtime race, this play has become the stuff of local legend. This is a script littered with very obscure references to Louisville neighborhoods, jokes about Highlands bookstores and not-so classy people from the South end capped off with a vivid thrusting sexuality that doesn’t let go until the final curtain.

From start to finish, each character on stage attempts to reach the extreme level of shock value set exceedingly high by the playwright. At the play’s core are Bryce Woodard and Lenae McKee Price as married couple Carl and Vanessa. These two deliver believable performances as two self-involved would-be swingers desperately trying to save their marriage by throwing a Derby Day Key Party. Without a doubt, they carry this performance to a higher level. As Carl, Woodard brings out selfish and blunt hedonistic qualities which are emphasized by the vintage mustache on his face. Price plays Carl’s wife Vanessa, a housewife driven by her broken dreams to turn her life around. With a heavy secret on her shoulders, Price brings real transformation to her character as the burden is lifted.

Ben Unwin and Abby Braun are Tim and Lana, a couple of squares who hold witness to the debauchery around them.Unwin and Braun provide tame performances in comparison to the other lively actors on stage. As Theresa, Victoria Reibel channels an immature pixie-with-too-much-eye makeup instead of the lower class social misfit in a middle class party that seems to the script’s intention. Kevin Butler plays the closeted Victor whose performance should have been polished with more compensation and less delayed reactions to the moments of revelation.

The grittiest and most powerful performances belong to Brianna Clemerson and Michael Mayes. Clemerson plays Victor’s wife Francine, a total force-to-be-reckoned with who will literally stop at nothing to get what she wants. Mayes plays Dennis with a certain self-assured southern confidence that channels Matthew McConaughey. Macho and simple minded, Mayes’ portrayal provides a foil for the other party guests resulting in a no-holds-barred performance.

Outrageous and wild, Dirty, Sexy, Derby Play is definitely not a play for the easily shocked. It is a tradition to attend or host a Derby party on that first Saturday in May but I assure you, there has never been a party like this before.

Dirty, Sexy, Derby Play

March 6-9, 13-15 @ 7:30pm

Louisville Repertory Company
at The Bards Town Theater
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205