By David Rabinovitz
(The Duplex Cabaret Theatre on December 3)
Amy Albert's hilarious portrayal of Delilah Dix, a boozy, fading, cabaret floozy is a comic masterpiece. Ms. Albert, wearing a glittering skin-tight dress slit to the hip, gold elbow gloves and a big blonde wig, wisecracked with such elan, that I was quickly put on notice that I was in the presence of a great natural comedienne.
Quite unlike the run-of-the-mill stand-up types who entered the arena when stand-up became fashionable, it is a certainty that Ms. Albert is funny in real life and that her reflexive way of looking at the world involves a large amount of satire and parody.
The slurred sexual banter segued into the Sondheim standard "Broadway Baby." Ms. Albert sang this song and those that followed, ("Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and "New York, New York") in the voice of the Delilah Dix character. But, when she needed to hit certain notes, or negotiate certain musical phrases that would have been well beyond the capacity of the besotted Delilah, she allowed her own rigorously disciplined powerhouse of a real Broadway star quality voice to take over for the split second required to maintain the integrity of the melody.
All of the songs, especially the imaginatively conceived collaboration of Elton John and Liza Minnelli (which was perhaps the best received number of the night), were delivered with the flair and subtlety of a great actor putting a song across.
The mini-skits, the snappy asides, the interplay with the crowd, particularly Delilah Dix's improvised responses to mostly impertinent questions from the audience, amounted to a virtuoso display of anarchic wit undeterred by any form of censorship whatsoever. Although Amy Albert and her co-writer Barbara Poelle are vastly more talented than at least 98 % of today's sit-com producers, even late night cable television on the weekends may not be quite ready for them, much less network TV.
My only regret is that Delilah Dix did not do a torch song during which she could have supplied, to be sure, uproarious interjections. "My Man" for example, would have provided an excellent vehicle for Miss Dix to further amplify her complaints about her four gay husbands. I hope Ms. Albert takes a page out of Rodney Dangerfield's playbook and records her first album at the historic Duplex whose traditions of showcasing the most innovative performers in New York she is so brilliantly continuing.
Ms Albert was ably supported by a trio of piano, trumpet and bass.
Amy Albert's act can be previewed on www.Youtube.com
See www.theduplex.com for the club's full and eclecic calendar and to make reservations.
The Duplex is located at Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue.