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STAGE REVIEW : No Life in 'Penny's People' : The characters in the Gypsy Playhouse production are little more than caricatures who fail to save the simplistic script.

December 04, 1992|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; T.H. McCulloh writes regularly about theater for The Times.

Penny is the manager of Tippy Top Services, a company that sends out those demonstrators who clog up aisles in various stores. So this is where they come from?

Just kidding. If store demonstrators were as strange as the characters in Lee Scott's "Penny's People," at the Gypsy Playhouse, customers would run. In the play, even those who aren't demonstrators are little more than caricatures, cartoon figures that can fall down or bump into something for a cheap laugh but have nothing inside to make them or the play work.

Penny, played with at least some humanity by Cindy Collins, is about to discover that her boss has been running his wife's company into the ground, just to notch his belt with some more sexual peccadilloes. Mark Mills also seems fairly human as a TV investigative reporter, incognito while he gathers info on unemployment.

Scott's direction, which is as simplistic as his script, completely defeats the rest of his cast, from Joe DeMonico's Jerry Lewis-flavored spastic office boy to Penny McGuiggan's overblown alcoholic dits. Even the Three Stooges at their lowest exhibit more character development than Scott has been able to provide these actors.

Jack Hazelton's setting is spare, Jack Haimsohn's lighting bright, Lisa Cooper's costumes often outlandish, and the whole evening looks every inch like a tacky old burlesque sketch stretched.

Where and When What: "Penny's People." Where: Gypsy Playhouse, 3321 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 20. Price: $10. Call: (818) 954-8458.

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