With her smoldering sensuality, strong jaw and portentous line readings full of significant pauses, there's an undeniable Bogartlike noir-ness about Terry Logan (Christy Mullins). An out-and-proud lesbian on the run from her Army post in Alabama, Logan lands at the Well, a smoky Chicago watering hole full of other stock characters ripped from the pages of steamy '50s-era pulp fiction. It's the evocation of these classic types that provides most of the fun in “Pulp,” the latest fine — if flawed — production from the Richmond Triangle Players.
Terry is taken under the wing of Pepper (Amy Henderson), the Well's barkeep with a heart of gold, who unsuccessfully warns her away from Bing (Holly Lucas), an insatiable sexpot whose every utterance is laced with innuendo. Terry and Bing embark on a torrid affair that's scuttled when the Well's owner, the imperious Vivian Blaine (Jeanie Rule), appears and draws Terry to her like a moth to flame.
Director John Knapp heightens the campy good fun of this genre sendup with the help of costume designer Mauren Pereira. Highlights including Terry's high-waisted pants and Bing's asset-enhancing frocks. Unfortunately, the ultradramatic spotlight effects designed by David A. McLain prove awkward almost as often as they enhance the action.
The performances are generally delightful, Mullins in particular making the most of the hard-boiled but softhearted amalgam that is Terry. Lucas manages to infuse her stock character with real depth and her scenes with Mullins crackle with energy. The same cannot be said of the Terry-Vivian tA¦te-Aÿ-tA¦tes: For a game-changing relationship, this one was sadly lacking in romantic chemistry. Rule does decent work otherwise and is in excellent voice, singing half of the show's torchy ballads. Some of the songs are oddly truncated, however, and not well served by the venue's acoustics. There are a few glimmers of brilliance here, even if they are inhibited from shining brightly. S
“Pulp” is playing at the Gay Community Center, 1440 Sherwood Ave., through April 18. Tickets are $20-$25. Call 346-8113 or visit www.rtriangle.org for tickets.