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THEATER BEAT : An Ethnic Tilt to 'Cold Tofu' at LATC

March 19, 1993

From "Cold Feet" to "Cold Tofu" is mind-bending.

Originally developed as a comedic forum for Asian-American performers and now expanded to include an array of multicultural artists, "Cold Tofu's First Annual Comedy One Act Festival" is like the vagaries of soybean soup--sometimes bland, sometimes protein-nourishing.

A full house at the L.A. Theatre Center seemed to energize the 12 performers. Six of them are Asian-Americans, giving the show a nominal ethnic tilt, particularly evident in the concluding and best sketch, Karen Huie's "Yasuko and the Young Samurai."

Directed by Jim Ishida and featuring Geoff Rivas' courting samurai and Denise Iketani's winsome princess fluttering her fan, the piece is humorous and yet layered with a depth of cultural feeling.

A derivative bomb shelter number, "Judgement Day," lays an egg. But among the show's five one-acts, the weird "More Dishes," by Leon Martell and directed by Roger Aaron Brown, strikes an original chord, with Darrow Igus (one of the cast's two African-Americans) playing a dishwasher who turns his pots and pans into an anvil chorus.

* "Cold Tofu," L.A. Theatre Center Theatre 4, 514 S. Spring St. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sunday matinees, 2 p.m. Ends April 4. $14. (213) 739-4142. Running time: 2 hours.

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