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THEATER REVIEW : Two Out of 'Six' Aren't Bad : Eclectic Company has a pair of standouts among the half-dozen comedy sketches offered in 'Quickies' at its new Valley theater.

October 21, 1994|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; T. H. McCulloh writes regularly about theater for The Times

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — The Eclectic Company, formerly Theatre 6470 in Hollywood, has inaugurated a new Valley space, the EC.CO Theatre, with a collection of short comedy pieces called "Six Quickies."

The group is a collective and has no artistic director. Pity. An artistic director might have persuaded the company to look further for some of its choices.

Only one of the pieces qualifies as an honest one-act. David Ives' "Seven Menus" came from New York's worthy Ensemble Studio Theatre and was first seen in Los Angeles at the Ensemble's Western branch several years ago. It opens as Paul, Hazel, Ruth and Jack are having dinner at a restaurant called Seven Menus. They are as matched and mismatched as most couples, except that Jack is awfully edgy, not a good omen for his relationship with Ruth. A bell brings a blackout, and when the lights go up, Barry has joined the table as Ruth's newest lover and fiance. Life, after all, does go on. Each time the bell sounds, the game of musical chairs and unmusical couples changes. Ives' comment on the vagaries of mating in the '80s is funny and character-rich.

The only other substantial sketch is Fredric Sirasky's "Power Video," in which two aging, rock-obsessed Valley Girl types (Janet Borrus, Jill Holden) in Madonna-like undress talk in MTV-speak until they are interrupted by a teen-age boy (Tyren Elwee) with a boom box playing Guy Lombardo-ish music. He calls rock "anachronistic" and tells them to grow up. After an illogical meeting with a former pal and her British rock star husband (Nancy Anne Baker, Brad Harrison) in their local mall, one of them does. After all, she says, "we're 35 years old."

In both these pieces, the performances are on the button and bring to life the logic in the former and the illogic in the latter. They don't have as much luck with the other numbers in their act.

Sirasky's "Tandem" has something obtuse to say about male fear of dominating females, but Frederick Stroppel's "A Chance Meeting" and "Package Deal" belong on "Saturday Night Live," not on a live stage.

The evening, which begins with "Seven Menus," slides slowly downward until it reaches the bottom, Nancy Beverly's "Attack of the Moral Fuzzies." Using a quiz-show format (ain't that original?), Beverly tries to comment on the confusion of making a choice about where to donate all your excess dollars, but the writing and the presentation are so trite that it becomes a great deal of ado about nothing of importance.

Where and When

What: "Six Quickies."

Location: EC.CO Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Ends Nov. 12.

Price: $15.

Call: (213) 882-4284.

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