‘H Street Housewives’ is consistently amusing, if rarely transcendent


Kevin Peck (background), Jenny Splitter, Molly Woods Murchie and Anika Harden in the production “The Real Housewives of H Street” at the Capital Fringe Festival. For more Fringe photos, go to: Fringe photostream: flic.kr/ps/Kvxdt (Copyright Andrew Bossi)

“The Real Housewives of D.C.” was a bust for Bravo, but playwright Jenny Splitter gives the concept a reboot with “H Street Housewives,” a spinoff about the ladies of Northeast. The play starts with the season finale reunion that assembles the four stars with a cheeky moderator (Dane Edidi).

The quartet includes Suze (Molly Woods Murchie), the persnickety blonde with a philandering husband, and Lorraine (Jessi Baden-Campbell), a hippie with a flock of chickens and a “free-range” approach to child-rearing. They’re joined by Francine (Anika Harden), a smug Tiger Mom who settles for no less than perfection, and Gina (Peter Orvetti), a New Jersey import who dresses like a floozy.

Flashbacks revisit episodes from the imagined season, including a trip to a bar (serving artisanal pig jowls, naturally) and a wedding vow renewal ceremony — a mainstay of the “Real Housewives” franchise. That is one of the many winks to the audience for a show that is more goofy burlesque than incisive satire.

A lot of the laughs come from fairly low-hanging fruit, including jokes about Maureen’s love for kombucha and gluten-free dining, not to mention her post-racial claim that she doesn’t see color. The production is consistently amusing, if rarely transcendent, although it may be more so for H Street residents who frequent the neighborhood’s Internet mailing list and understand the politics of commenting and moderating.

On opening night, the cast was still working out some kinks, although each actor had memorable comic turns, especially Murchie and Orvetti, who did little to camouflage his masculinity under the wig and pink lipstick. His portrayal was ludicrous but also hilarious, and it seemed to signal that Splitter should ditch some of the easy hippie jokes, because the most outlandish setups got the biggest payoffs.


”H Street Housewives,” a Jenny Splitter production, premieres at the Capital Fringe Festival. (Courtesy Jenny Splitter and Capital Fringe Festival)

H Street Housewives

by Jenny Splitter. 70 minutes. Through July 26 at Capital Fringe Festival. Go to www.capfringe.org.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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