“Miss Biracial Upper Midwest 1984”

Greg Corradini

5:30 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Sunday

Red Eye Theatre

Miss Celtic avoids potatoes. Miss Latin is a blistering feminist in a mini skirt. Miss Black, well, she’s a brick house.

Scathing gender and race commentary undermines pageantry and ethnic pride in Theatre Mojo’s “Miss Biracial Upper Midwest 1984.”

Set in Superior, Wis., the play revolves around a handful of ethnically conscious women dancing for the Biracial Upper Midwest crown. In the bankrupt tradition of beauty pageants, nothing is taboo, too overboard or too tasteless.

Miss Latin (Amy Sackett), in her preperformance speech, confides that as Miss Biracial Upper Midwest, she will free her Latina sisters from the nail-biting prison that is male-defined beauty. Legs will go unshaved. Nails will go unpolished.

In the parlance of the play, the “hot little taco” comes onstage half naked and shakes her “maracas” (literal and symbolic) for 10 minutes of pure spectacle.

Miss Black’s (Heather Wilson) performance doesn’t rate much better on a scale of decency or feminist zeal.

Highlighted with a spotlight, her butt keeps time in a grass thong. When Salt N’ Peppa’s “Push It” hits the speakers, the dancing devolves into humping.

Then again, this is the point.

A beauty pageant can’t go beyond surfaces. An ethnic pageant can’t go beyond stereotypes. And strong commentary, that blunt instrument of criticism, aims to shock and disgust people out of their torpor.

And somehow, Theatre Mojo does it with dance.

Miss Asian (Deborrah Thayer) battles patriarchy like Godzilla in high heels. Miss Celtic (Colleen McClellan), a third generation Irish-American, tries to pass off her whiteness as “ethnic” and is dutifully beat up by the “darker” dancers.

Theatre Mojo, to its credit, has devised a very entertaining punching bag. We can only hope that no one left the show thinking that they were at a strip club in Superior.