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Story Gets Lost in the Mix of 'Cementville'

THEATER BEAT

March 10, 1995|PHILIP BRANDES

You'll probably be surprised to learn that female wrestling bouts are cynically staged for commercial exploitation.

Such is the shocking revelation of "Cementville," the Jane Martin comedy at Theatre Geo, about an all-girl team whose touring life seems to have hit rock-bottom with its upcoming performance in a dingy Pennsylvania town.

An abundance of locker-room humor echoes appropriately enough through Jamie Campbell's locker-room set, much of it supplied by Carrie Dobro as an earthy, hard-edged veteran and Jay Lacopo as the troupe's sleazy manager. Juliette Jeffers is also noteworthy as a naif who wants to be appreciated for her athletic prowess--boy, is she in the wrong ring.

Geo Hartley's crisp direction and Ren Campbell's outrageously tacky wrestling costumes sustain lively pacing and visual whimsy. But what begins as a taut, reality-based, behind-the-scenes look at female athletes unravels in the second act into a six-ring circus with conflicting story threads involving racism, drug addiction, castration, corruption of a minor, a shooting and a rioting audience tossed in for good measure. Not always funny and sometimes not very pretty, the lingering effect is titillating and vaguely slimy--not unlike the subject matter.

\o7 * "Cementville," Theatre Geo, 1229 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles. Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends April 16. $14. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.\f7

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