WHEN | WHERE Through Oct. 15, MCC’s Lucille Lortel Theatre,
121 Christopher St.
INFO $30-$99; 212-352-3101, mcctheater.org
BOTTOM LINE The power of a properly held teacup.
“I’m not modeling trans behavior. I’m modeling good behavior,” declares Mama Darlin, the extraordinarily proper woman who’s the power behind “Charm,” the recently opened play directed by Will Davis at MCC Theater.
Author Philip Dawkins was inspired to create the stunning Miss Darleena Andrews, as she’s also known, after meeting the real life Miss Gloria Allen, a transgender volunteer at Chicago’s LGBTQ community center who decided etiquette lessons might go a long way in helping the center’s young people adjust to the world.
Performed with no small amount of grit and her own significant charm by Sandra Caldwell, Mama Darlin forces lessons they never thought they needed on this rowdy group, among them the street-wise Ariela (Hailie Sahar), the flamboyant Jonelle (Jojo Brown), the confused Lady (Marky Irene Diven) and the troubled Beta (Marquise Vilson). Initially interested only in the free food, the boisterous bunch — in smashing costumes by Oana Botez that speak to their personalities better than any gender pronouns — comes to respect, even love, this remarkable teacher who refuses to give up on them.
Do these kids, dealing with multiple insecurities and ongoing questions of identity, really need to know the proper way to introduce themselves, to hold a teacup, to set a table? Turns out, they do.