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The classic 1975 film The Stepford Wives had an of-its-time statement about “women's lib” and the lengths to which men would go to squelch it – but Running With Scissors' latest production, The Really Desperate Housewives of Stepford Parish, trades social satire for camp and pure laughs. Joanna (Dorian Rush) is a 1970s New Orleans wife with her own “liberated” interests (macaroni art) until her husband (Michael Sullivan) convinces her to move to Stepford Parish, home of “the first Chinese restaurant on the Northshore!”

In Stepford Parish, the gals turn out to be Windex-wielding fembots more concerned with waxy yellow buildup than women's lib – a mysterious transformation that always seems to occur after they return from a romantic weekend alone with their husbands in LaPlace. Whatever's afoot seems to center on the sinister, secretive Stepford Men's Club, an establishment that puts the “gay” in “gated community,” where Village People albums can be heard late at night and the hubbies are the town florists, antique dealers “and the Archbishop.” Soon, Joanna is plotting to leave Stepford Parish and move to Bush (“You're not enthusiastic about Bush?” asks one character, poker-faced), but it may be too late to save Joanna's macramé soul.

Brian Peterson is a stitch as Joanna's friend Bobbi, who transforms from blousy pot-smoking 1970s housewife to a buxom Robot Monster gargoyle in an Old Glory apron, and Bob Edes Jr. and Kyle Daigrepont get plenty of laughs in a variety of quick-change roles of every possible gender. While not as epic as some of Running With Scissors' other sendup productions like Valley of the Dolls and The Titanic Adventures of the Love Boat Poseidon, TRDHOSTP is a Captain and Tennille-powered gas. When these Northshore hausfraus say “I'll just die if I don't get this recipe,” they ain't kidding.

The Really Desperate Housewives of Stepford Parish

Fri.-Sun., June 5–27

Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812