Who else but The Tribe of Fools would have the balls (& feathers) to turn the backstage drama of Philly’s Mummers competitions into a hot (glued) gay romance. TOF writers Nick Mazzuca, Peter Smith and Terry Brennan’s ‘Two Street – A Tale of Star Crossed Mummers’ pits the Irish Mummers’ brigade against the Italian team who have to share rehearsal space with them after their clubhouse burns down. Italian brother Jules and Ty are champs every year bringing their team to Mummer victory in the show dance division. In the Irish corner is Ronnie and his sister Marcie, who are in it to please their Mummer obsessed father. Meanwhile, opposing competitors Jules and Ronnie, are just two out gay guys spending most of their time in a straight world getting sloppy drunk after Mummer shows in straight bars. Things get complicated when they accidentally cruise each other via Grindr.
Brennan is among the Mummer corp dancers and also directs. He makes this a sweaty South Philly Romeo and Jules story, with warring families keeping the heat turned on high. The South Philly accents are heavy, the f-bomb is dropped every other sentence, but Brennan gets inside all that shtick for real characters to care about, no matter how tongue in cheek.
Ronnie wants a casual thing, with lots of sex…but…is afraid of commitment, but Jules meanwhile falls deep for Ronnie. Ty has problems with that because he doesn’t want to see his brother hurt by falling for the wrong guy again or to loose focus in their quest for Mummer glory. Marcie sees how much Jules is falling for Ronnie and tells him not to f-bomb with Jules affection. Motives and manipulations lead to a lot of lot of exits and nasty texting, but they eventually, Jules and Ronnie start working on routines together.
In between all this drama there are the Mummers’ routines, some saved by lame pants, some as polished as cluster sequins. Choreographer Tim Popp doesn’t let the Tribe just mark steps, there has to be attack. As Ty, Peter Smith also throws in some precision yoga and dancey somersaults. Peter Danzig as Jules and Zachary Chiero as Ronnie have snarky chemistry and tenderness, even when they have to lay on their macho- tude to fit in the turf wars of Mummer culture. Some of that can be dialed back, and Brennan’s rapid-fire dialogue work against them in key points. In contrast, the longer scenes have a more natural rhythm and pace.
In a hilariously touching scene, Karina Balfour’s Jo the costumer, is fitting Ronnie for new sparkly gauchos as he rattles on about getting too involved with Jules. She not only reads him sex/romance riot act about most relationships being trade offs, she rips his sequin booty pants off and tells him that he’s eating too many carbs. Ty too opens up to Ronnie about his devotion to his brother and how he gets stereotyped too as a one-dimensional straight man who works in pest control. Isa St. Clair is the tough talking sexually adventurous, brutally honest Marcie, who doesn’t pull any punches when people fuck up (I’m talking to you Ronnie).
With a bit more scene balance and a little less punchy dialogue this funny and huge hearted is the Fringe Neighborhood winner in gay and straight and definitely dance and bootypants division.