Jules Feiffer takes a scalpel to contemporary angst in "Hold Me!" at the Garden Grove Community Theatre in a razor-edge production that keeps the humorist's sharp, satiric incisions cleanly evident. The 1977 collection of sketches adds up to a thoughtful, funny, often surprising evening of one-two punches delivered by an extraordinary five-member cast that is called upon to produce dozens of characters out of thin air in the space of a split-second pause.
Feiffer's acidic comments on the Me Generation and modern neuroses remain as bleakly applicable in 1987 as they were in 1977. Many of his familiar comic strip characters are here, including the hapless Bernard, the battle-scarred veteran of the war between the sexes. Mark Cook deftly sends Bernard careening around confusion, anger, despair and detachment in an attempt to make sense out of personal relationships. Also on hand is the tireless modern dancer who defiantly contends, "Nothing else gets better; why should I?" Nancy Von Schimmelmann gives her the required earnest self-absorption without overstating her case.
Beverly Turner especially is effective. She uses her expressive face to move from vapid to voracious to crazy to clinging. Her gift for physical comedy is highlighted in sketches about an obsessively dependent wife and about a robot invented to bolster male esteem. Turner then switches gears for a poignant vignette about a woman whose husband is dying (and she neatly sets up one of Feiffer's wicked punch lines). Ricci Thomas is another proficient chameleon who can assume a dizzying spectrum of female identities at staggering speed.