Seamus Mulcahy, left, and John Patrick Doherty "Billy Witch."
Lust, Longing and Lanyards: Ah, Camp
‘Billy Witch,’ Onstage in Queens
By ANDY WEBSTER
Published: November 13, 2012
In his gleeful romp “Billy Witch,” Gregory S. Moss (“punkplay”) takes familiar ingredients of high school horror — summer camp, a lake, a forest, ghost stories — and hurls them into a whirlwind of comic sexual awakening.
The audience at the Astoria Performing Arts Center gathers before a curtain to meet Counselor Becky (Dawn Luebbe) and Counselor James (Nicholas Urda) and hear opening remarks from the camp’s imperious director, P D Lockwood (John Patrick Doherty). Then we are admitted to Camp Blue Triangle, nicely rendered in Tim Brown’s tree-laden set. (Chris Barlow, the sound designer, provides unobtrusively effective cricket chirps and owl hoots.)
The campers include the 14-year-old Oliver (Seamus Mulcahy), a shy outsider seeking to change his life. Change certainly arrives, thanks to puberty, not to mention Oliver’s fair-weather friend Arden (a petulant and amusing Eric Bryant), a boy of drastically arbitrary moods and sexual preferences; the mysterious Kid (Andy Phelan), who strikes a bargain with Oliver; Sandy (Liz Wisan), a garrulous gossip and flirt; and Miranda (Aimee Howard), a shy girl with eyes (and tentacles) for Oliver. We also learn about Billy Witch, a camper who in 1982 vanished in suspicious circumstances and has haunted the premises ever since.
As directed by Erik Pearson, the show pursues strange tangents — Lockwood’s comically terrifying lecture about women, the counselors’ unsettling arts-and-crafts presentation on the preparation and meaning of God’s-eyes— but doesn’t lag. (Nor does the buoyant cast.) And you may never again see the first tentative kiss of adolescence exchanged between a boy and a bespectacled she-squid.
“Billy Witch” continues through Saturday at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street, at 30th Road, Astoria, Queens; (866) 811-4111, apacny.org.