Might Bravo's "Real Housewives" reality television franchise already be too over the top to make a good subject for a parody? Apparently not, according to "The Realish Housewives of Edina: A Parody," currently running at New Century Theatre.
This farcical show takes up the challenge with gusto, as its backstabbing leading ladies and smarmy host swill cheap Champagne and trade cheap shots with the best of them.
The show unfolds on designer Theresa Aker's clever re-creation of a studio set as host Randy and his five stars introduce the premiere season of "Realish Housewives" Minnesota-style. Cliffhangers, catfights and heavily scripted "impromptu" confessions ensue. Even the audience gets in on the act, as surprise guests are enlisted from the front rows of the theater.
This lighter-than-air concept works, thanks to director Matthew Miller's sharp pacing and a strong ensemble that takes full advantage of a script written by Second City veterans Kate James and Tim Sniffen.
As the host, Adan Varela presides over his bevy of "housewives" like a piranha scenting blood. Over the course of 90 minutes, he steers the ladies through reminiscences and re-enactments of the highs and lows of living the beautiful life at 50th and France. One of the more hilarious segments involves the women attending a fundraiser for the victims of "Kurain," which is variously identified as a country, a hurricane and a serial killer.
True to the mores of reality television, the women themselves fit carefully selected stereotypes. Quinn Shadko's Claudia Louise is the saccharine and superior one of the bunch, eager to convince all and sundry that her life is just a bit more perfect than theirs, while Karissa Lade portrays supermodel Desiree, who is sweetly congenial and dumb as a box of rocks.
Kim Kivens is in comic overdrive as Ravonka, a hedonistic socialite with a sketchy past, a mysteriously unidentifiable accent and, of course, a tiny dog that lives in her purse. Kivens has a marvelous time reveling in histrionics and channeling Zsa Zsa Gabor. Anna Hickey offers up an energetic performance as high-powered businesswoman Brooke, whose love life is eclipsed by her ambition, while Katherine Kupiecki adds a sinister touch as a power-hungry politician who can't seem to keep her hands off other people's money.
Yes, "Realish Housewives" is definitely dishing up pure frivolity here, but the ensemble's fine comic timing, enthusiasm and nicely honed sense of the ludicrous make for an amusing evening. But be careful if you're sitting in the front row; you just might discover how real reality can get.
Lisa Brock is a Minneapolis writer.