John Ford Noonan's "A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking" is a bright, brash cartoon about an improbable instance of sisterhood -- feminist sisterhood, not the biological kind. An Off-Broadway hit two seasons ago, it is getting its first local showing at the Source Theatre's Warehouse Rep in a production that could be a little brighter, a little brasher, perhaps, but is nonetheless reasonably entertaining.
There are only two characters -- uptight, straight-laced Maude ("Privacy is my middle name"), who compensates for a philandering husband by organizing every last inch of her suburban existence; and pushy, over-sexed Hannah Mae, the one-time Texas cheerleader who has moved in next door with her "lug." To say that Hannah Mae is outgoing is like saying Attila the Hun was crotchety. She is determined to be Maude's best friend the moment she barrels through the kitchen door and plops down to exchange confidences over a cup of coffee.
Maude knows her prerogatives as a Westchester matron. "We pay far too much tax to have our peace disturbed," she objects. But Hannah Mae won't take no for an answer. She won't take doors locked in her face or coffee cups dashed to the floor or even an all-out, hair-pulling, rolling-on-the-lineoleum fight for an answer, either. She knows a sisterly soul when she sees one!
How this odd couple does, in fact, become the closest of friends is the matter of Noonan's six, speedy scenes, in the course of which the ladies' offstage husbands also get their comeuppance. There may be subtler treatments of the subject, but it's obvious that two good actresses can have a field day in these roles.
Jane Beard (Maude) and Carole Myers (Hannah Mae) don't quite let out all the stops, although they both certainly look right. Beard is tiny, trim and tidy. Myers is tall and leggy, and she has swept her blond tresses off to one side -- a style that I want to describe as wearing her hair side-saddle. They both have a good bead on the contrasting temperaments they are portraying. Beard's way with a lump of cookie dough, for example, tells you lots about all the frustrations that have piled up inside her. But the actresses are still feeling their way through Noonan's script and the little hitches and hesitancies dampen the merriment somewhat.
Shelly Barkley's kitchen set shows more care than many at Source and director Dorothy Newmann has laid out the groundwork with intelligence. It remains for this pair of white chicks to take the whole shebang up a couple of notches.
A COUPLA WHITE CHICKS SITTING AROUND TALKING. By John Ford Noonan. Directed by Dorothy Newmann; set, Shelley Barkley; lighting, Geoffrey L. Grob. With Jane Beard and Carole Myers. At the Source's Warehouse Rep through Oct. 31.