They say clothes make the man. This seems literally to have been true in the case of Jack, the central character in The Toughest Boy in Philadelphia, based on the true story of the 1920s gangster "Whistling Jack" McConnell, who was actually a transvestite named Florence Gray. Iron Age Theatre of Norristown brings this new play to Philadelphia for Gay Pride Month and for the company's first full run in the city in 10 years.
Andrea Kennedy Hart's tedious script emphasizes the wrong stuff - long, pompous suffragette speeches and long, pompous psychoanalytic theory about curing "sexual inversion," plus the repeated telling of the myth of Orion, the relevance of which eluded me. We see very little of Jack's rise to fame and power, or of the way it would have gratified a woman in those powerless early years of the 20th century in our hometown.