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STAGE REVIEW : 'P.S.': Urban Comedy With a Little Twist

August 06, 1988|MARK CHALON SMITH

The Garden Grove Community Theatre production of James Kirkwood's "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead" is a little bit kinky. Which suits the play just fine.

"P.S." is a humorous number that carries bondage, bisexuality and urban vigilantism on its lightweight frame. It may have been a lot wilder when it first appeared on Broadway in 1975, but this is community theater, right? Considering the restraints usual for a city-sponsored small playhouse, this production, directed by Peter Dolan, is reasonably saucy.

The story starts off tamely enough. While actor Jimmy (Mike Moon) is away from his West Village loft, thief Vito (Tony Vatsula) breaks in. As Vito gathers up Jimmy's new TV set, Jimmy's ex-girlfriend (Michele Roberge) drops by to tell Jimmy that his cat died at the veterinarian's office.

Vito hides, then Jimmy shows up, he and the ex-girlfriend have an argument, she splits, then Jimmy discovers Vito, chases him around and finally catches him, beans him and hogties him face down over the sink. This is, it turns out, the third time Jimmy's been broken into. Seeking revenge, he decides to torture the hapless Vito.

He strips away Vito's pants and underwear, makes him wear silly hats, feeds him cat food--that sort of thing. All the while, Jimmy and Vito talk, first with hostility but later with empathy. Eventually, Jimmy is won over by Vito's street-wise charm and piquant stories of hustling drugs, women and men. Vito, it turns out, is not so much a criminal as a lover, a basically good guy who, once he gets to know you, is as loyal as a lap dog.

This production clicks because of the chemistry between Vito and Jimmy, for which Vatsula is mostly responsible. With his "Saturday Night Fever" Brooklyn persona--equal parts brash bounder and vulnerable kid--Vatsula works up some nice comic energy, especially in the second act when he confesses his more-than-brotherly affection for Jimmy.

Moon keeps up his end, making Jimmy a neurotic jumble of impulses. This is an excitable guy, and Moon has fun with him. He should watch the mugging, though, particularly early on when he doesn't seem as comfortable with the role.

Roberge is fine as the spunky ex-girlfriend, and Fred Gable comes through in a minor role as her stuffy new boyfriend.

'P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD'

A Garden Grove Community Theatre production of James Kirkwood's comedy. Directed by Peter Dolan (with help from Carolee Jortner). With Tony Vatsula, Michele Roberge, Mike Moon and Terry Petersen. Plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 13 at 12001 St. Mark St., Garden Grove. Tickets: $5-$7. (714) 897-5122.

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