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REVIEW: The Whining

by Steve Desroches

The most common question a year-round resident of Provincetown gets asked is, “What’s it like in the winter?” It gets asked in a variety of ways, with alternating tones of envy, befuddlement, or genuine interest, sometimes layered with stigmatizing assumptions, a romanticism, or a downright fear. And over the years it’s become a common joke to tell inquisitive visitors that Provincetown in the winter is just like The Shining. Live here long enough and you’ll see someone totally lose it come the third nor’easter of the month and pack up the car and split.

The adventure of a Provincetown winter has long been due for a satirical stab, and thankfully, Varla Jean Merman and Peaches Christ took a whack at it first and have succeeded with their hilarious hit The Whining, a mashup of Stephen King stories built around the storyline of The Shining. Co-written by the drag superstars, The Whining is at times rude, crass, low brow, and offensive. In short, it’s absolute perfection. It’s everything a drag queen spoof should be as it swings an axe drawing first blood. But above all else, The Whining is a love letter to Provincetown, though it shows its affection much the same way as a comedy roast. Nothing says I love you more than gallows humor and old-school shade.

In The Whining, Varla and Peaches agree to be the winter caretakers of the Art House in an empty, desolate Provincetown where the only other person who remains is the town crier as the former caretaker Penny heads to Orlando to go to clown college, knowing all to well the evil that winter in Provincetown can bring out in even the happiest drag queen. It’s little Danny that uses the “shining” to communicate there’s trouble when the power and cell service go out, as the snow continues to pile up, Varla has writer’s block as she tries to prepare her 20th anniversary show, and Peaches is desperate to finish her RuPaul’s Drag Race audition video.

Varla and Peaches work together exquisitely in this production full of savage quips and one-liners. Mark Meehan gives us some Scooby-Doo villain realness as the devilish town crier, Darlene Van Alstyne slays as Penny (think Scatman Crothers meets Bozo with ESP), and Brian Johnston steals the show with his multi-character performances of people those familiar with Provincetown will recognize. And there is of course Mrs. Danvers, Varla’s very real dog who plays a pup named Danny with extraordinary mental powers.

Provincetown is special in so many ways, and that’s worth defending, as is made quite clear in The Whining, even if it means taking out those freaky twins in the hallway. So order some red rum at the bar and do not miss this only-in-Provincetown production. You want to play with Varla and Peaches forever and ever and ever….

The Whining is performed at the Art House, 214 Commercial St., Provincetown, Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through September 8. Tickets ($35 general/$45 for VIP) are available at the box office and online at For more information call 508.487.9222.

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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