Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is a one-joke idea transformed into a funny and perfectly engaging little chamber musical: a miracle given the source material.

For those not acquainted with the 1978 porn film, DDD is all about high school teen Debbie Benton’s quest to raise enough cash to travel to Texas and become a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Not particularly bright but full of good intentions, Debbie and friends decide to get jobs to help out, but it’s not long before their Teen Services company is misinterpreted by the town’s menfolk.

The show works because it’s short, punchy and, unlike most porn films, it tells a half-decent story. Can Debbie (Lisa Adam) keep her virginity and her boyfriend while selling sexual favours? Will nasty best friend Lisa (Octavia Barron-Martin) prove sluts finish first?

The songs are powerfully forgettable but by no means offensive (at least musically) although with titles like The Dildo Rag and Dallas, I’m Coming there were occasional gasps. Is that a finger up my ass? croons Debbie in the climactic number, for example.

Director Peter Ross has drawn consistent performances from the ensemble: a style somewhere between valley girl movie and pantomime. The songs and the plot provide the humour, as the actors sensibly resist the temptation to wink at the audience.

The straight performance style also allows the script’s strangely feminist critique to hit its mark with the utmost discomfort. Presented in porn, Debbie’s na?ty fulfils a purely erotic function. Presented on stage, Debbie’s cluelessness becomes somewhat horrifying, and her limited opportunities seem a little sad.

This is all subtext of course, and primarily DDD is packed with jokes and adult sight gags, including enormous prosthetic cocks, half-chewed bananas and multi-purpose candles.

Finally, the choreography deserves special mention, especially for the group lesbian love-in number.

Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical is showing at the Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre, cnr Cleveland St and City Rd, until 28 August.
Phone 9266 4800.

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