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Stage Beat

'Star-Spangled Girl'

November 27, 1987

"The Venetian Twins" may be more than 200 years old, but it's a lot funnier than Neil Simon's "The Star-Spangled Girl" is after 20 years. Granted, the current production of "The Star-Spangled Girl" is not seen to its best advantage in the current Marquis Gallery production, playing through Dec. 14, but the datedness of the material is glaringly apparent.

Take the protagonists--please. Andy Hobart (Dean Hilgeman) and Norman Cornell (Tim West) are two guys from the late '60s who really care, passionately, about a rebellious, anti-Establishment newspaper that they write out of their San Francisco apartment. (While the characters are definitely '60s-types, the script itself is updated to the extent of including a few topical headlines: "Reagan's Court: Is His Bork Worse Than His Bite?")

Then add the odd-couple element twisted awkwardly into a menage a trois: an all-American girl from the Midwest with an America-love-it-or-leave-it philosophy who opposes everything they believe in, and, yes, manages to fall in love with one of them anyway--but not the one in love with her.

All right, so this is not the worst idea in the world. After all, physical attraction as the basis for love has worked before.

But with the exception of some bright moments by Jo Cary as the star-spangled girl, this acting couldn't cut a marshmallow. The director, Steven Soden, doesn't seem to pull out anything resembling timing or interactive sparks from his cast. The set, also by Soden, includes a kitchen area invisible to half the audience. This production should have been so invisible.

Performances at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 14. At the Marquis Gallery Theater, 3717 India St., San Diego.

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