20-Year Collaboration Leads to Another Campy Success

Brooks Braselman, left, and David Gordon star in “Reflection of Evil: Die Sister Twin, Die” at Empire Stage. Credit: George Wentzler

Stacey Bean and actor Brooks Braselman first met in New York 20 years ago. Since then, Braselman, who frequently performs in drag, has become a muse for the Arkansas based playwright.

Their latest collaboration, “Reflections of Evil: Die Sister Twin, Die,” which premiered last weekend at Empire Stage, is another masterpiece of campy satire.

The play is a riff on the 1946 film, “A Stolen Life,” in which Bette Davis plays twins, one good, the other evil. In Bean’s work, Braselman plays both Ann and Bettie Wallace, young coeds home for the summer break. Ann is studious and virginal and Bettie, well, is not.

Their widowed mother, Mrs. Wallace (Janet Weakley), hurriedly prepares the New England house after some hilarious banter with the family’s black maid, Hydrangea (Erin Pittleman), who is very obviously not black.

“But every white family has a black maid,” Mrs. Wallace insists as Hydrangea rolls her eyes.

The twins, thanks to convenient entrances and exits, reveal they are both competing for their new love, mechanic Phillip (David Gordon), who they met while filling up the car on the edge of town.

When the girls get desperate, a sailing trip provides the opportunity for one to steal the other’s man—with a couple silly plot twists.

Braselman is familiar to Fort Lauderdale audiences from his gender bending roles in “Mommie Queerest,” “Silver Balls” and “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode,” but he is perhaps at his best in this role, thanks to the playwright’s intimate understanding of his acting gifts and idiosyncrasies.

Kudos go to Braselman for lumbering on after an accident several weeks ago that left him wearing big therapeutic plastic boots. Big black culottes hid the boots and clever accessories facilitated his quick costume changes.

Weakley is equally hilarious as the naïve mother and Pittleman gets some of the best one-liners in the script. Gordon, even though he’s cast as a mechanic, is at times suave and debonair like so many ‘40s and ‘50s actors, the straight man in the cast with that proper WASP-y accent.

Michael McClain contributed a handsome set in the intimate Empire Stage space with lots of doors for the quick entrances and exits that characterize farce. Bean and Preston Bircher’s audio design pulls heavily from the great composers of the silver screen including David Raksin (“Laura”) and Bernard Herrmann, who penned the famous themes for Alfred Hitchcock’s films.

“Reflection of Evil” is silly summer fun that will entertain both gay and straight audiences.

“Reflection of Evil: Die Sister Twin, Die” is playing at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flager Drive in Fort Lauderdale, through Aug. 2. Tickets are $30 at EmpireStage.com.


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