Categories: Arts Theater

Ravishing Danny Scheie guides ‘A Tour’ like no other

Playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has hilariously fulfilled his promise to use every double entendre he could come up with in his world premiere at Z Space.

And veteran Bay Area actor Danny Scheie delivers them deliciously in “A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry.”

The title is wordy, and so is this interactive one-man show in which Scheie’s whirling dervish of a character “transgresses from the official narrative” used by other, lesser guides at the home once inhabited by a wealthy, eccentric, sex-crazed couple, Clarissa and Hubert Porter.

In the 90-minute monologue and architectural tour like no other, fast-talking Weston (whose uniform includes a baby blue beret and matching sport coat) tells his salacious version of what happened to the Porters.

Often getting uncomfortably close to his customers (particularly to one fellow he fancied opening night), he leads guests through a nifty, maze-like set by Sean Riley. Full of doors with signs indicating mysterious activity behind them, it’s sort of a facsimile of a house.

The journey begins in a foyer, where Weston takes tickets and introduces tour-goers to odd ducks Hubert and Clarissa, using dress forms as a visual aid.

Entry to the mansion is through the rear entrance (“We are the guests who prefer the rear,” Weston says); followed by a visit to the mud room, where the couple busily consummated their marriage and left journals of their sexual exploits; and then to the room to see what brought the Porters their fortune: “the stick of butter
that changed everything,” stored, museum-like, under a cloche.

On the way into a bathroom, Weston serves up cookies and lotion, pumping a dab into each visitor’s hand, never stopping his explicit banter.

The tour takes a serious, even touching, turn as Weston takes the group into a closet (everyone sits down on the floor, and it’s quite cozy) and shares sad. personal issues regarding his quest to find the Porters’ secret room.

But really, the meandering “plot” doesn’t matter.

Undoubtedly weird, “A Tour” somehow works. Nachtrieb, who wrote the show for Scheie, succeeds in getting across his message, to acknowledge people who feel outside the norm. Yet it’s Scheie’s brilliant performance — at times reminiscent of Robin Williams, directed by Jason Eagan — that really sells this tour.

REVIEW
A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion with Tour Guide Weston Ludlow Londonderry
Where: Z Space, 470 Florida St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; closes April 23
Tickets: $22 to $33
Contact: (866) 811-4111, www.zspace.org

Leslie Katz

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