Set in England in the mid-18th century, Shirley Gee’s historically based “Warrior” defines a new genre--the potpourri play. Not that playwrights aren’t prone to wandering off the beaten theme on occasion. However, Gee’s yarn about a comely British lass who dons drag and fights in His Majesty’s fleet is a porridge of romance, action-adventure, mysticism, feminism and antiwar rhetoric, with a bit of bump-and-grind burlesque thrown in for good measure.
What results in this production by CalRep in Long Beach is a savory but ultimately gaseous mishmash as entertaining as it is undisciplined. Director Joanne Gordon gives free rein to Gee’s energetic period piece, putting her performers through their athletic paces aboard Danila Korogodsky’s ambitious set--a suspended, swaying platform “ship,” complete with mast and rigging, upon which many in the capable cast scramble with breathtaking aplomb.
Although her womanly contours are not convincingly concealed, Katie Johnson, who plays the cross-dressing Hannah, gamely carries the arduous action. For all its pretensions to profundity, Gee’s drama functions best as sheer romantic adventure. ‘Tis pity that Hannah’s swashbuckling sergeant Godboldt (John Shepard), a stalwart bodice-ripper if ever there was one, should be swept off his amorous course by the playwright’s uncharted philosophical currents.
* “Warrior,” Cal State Long Beach’s Studio Theatre, 7th Street and West Campus Drive, Long Beach. Wednesdays, 6 p.m.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Matinees this Saturday and March 1, 2 p.m. Ends March 1. $15. (310) 985-7000. Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes.