She borrows, too, from William Wycherley’s notoriously randy Restoration comedy “The Country Wife.” Its hero, Horner, spreads a rumor of his personal impotence so he can proceed together with his many liaisons unsuspected. The model of that in “Merry Me” entails Jess telling everybody that Shane has turned straight.
This lie is useful for warding off Basic Memnon (David Ryan Smith), who needs Shane “courtroom marshaled for her heretically heterophobic courting habits.” It additionally ensures her freedom to woo ladies, with Sapph quickly topping the listing. Besides that the pseudo-enlightened Willy (Ryan Spahn) is nowhere close to as gullible as his father.
It’s a ridiculous, convoluted plot, with solely a tenuous logic in its connection to Shane’s orgasmic quest, however there’s a gleeful, nearly punchy abandon to this play’s dedication to queer feminine pleasure, embrace of bawdy enjoyable and relish of theatrical in-jokes.
With shout-outs to Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett and Thornton Wilder, “Merry Me” pilfers efficiently from Shakespeare (when Sapph dons a mannish disguise that Shane sees proper by way of) and from Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” (which lends a glamorous, comedian, sexually expert Angel, performed by Shaunette Renée Wilson). If such a mash-up smacks barely of drama faculty, “Merry Me” additionally has a refreshingly playful spirit that established artists typically lose out on the planet.
Rachel Hauck’s set offers an angel’s-eye view of the bottom camp, with rows of miniature tents arrayed on a vertical backdrop, and actually the Angel and her winged colleagues are a lot involved with goings-on there. Godlike, they induced the blackout that has paused the conflict. To carry it, they demand a sacrifice — and on this feminist retelling, that’s not going to be anyone’s daughter.
Pvt. Willy Memnon, they’re you.
By Nov. 19 at New York Theater Workshop, Manhattan; nytw.org. Working time: 1 hour half-hour.