San Diego outdoors: Aida, animal tracks, rugby, SUP with dogs, 1800s Old Town, waterski and wakeboard
Indoors: WWI San Diego, complete history of theater, Christopher Plummer, pickles, Van Gogh-Gaughin, Martina McBride
11:50 a.m., June 28
Charles Busch is a theater legend. Having him on stage, performing an original work, could have been a rare treat for San Diegans - if his play weren't such a meandering sprawl, relieved mostly by silliness. It's three (or four) stories in search of an author: a Russian fairy tale about a shy princess; a mother and son screenwriting team holed up outside Omaha drumming up ideas ad- it would seem - infinitum; and a Mrs. Frankenstein cloning doubles, including one for Queenie Bartlett, mob boss. Busch sprinkles funny, literate one-liners throughout. But no story's strong enough to stand by itself (same with the characters). And though the interwoven script builds a sense of purposeful indirection, the two-hour, 45-minute show accumulates debts it never repays (and hammers its theme, about parents needing to let their children go, into pulp). The various locales let scenic designer David Gallo roam from a birch-tree'd Russian forest to 1950s film noir L.A. done in orange and black. Director Carl Andress encouraged a pseudo-melodramatic style: short, adamant sentences followed by cameo posing. The style's fun, for a while, but tends to drone by act 2. Best of show: Jennifer Van Dyck, who played Ophelia at the Old Globe a decade ago, does an extended monologue in that heightened style that's spellbinding. Then she breaks the spell by apologizing for her "anecdote." Then casts it again and continues on.