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THEATER REVIEW : 'Kathy and Mo': It's Really a Light Side

June 30, 1995|DON SHIRLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney ventured forth from their San Diego roots in the mid-'80s to conquer New York, Los Angeles Theatre Center and HBO, among other venues.

Soon after being crowned America's foremost female comedy duo, however, Najimy and Gaffney began working separately. Fans have eagerly anticipated their joint comeback.

"Kathy & Mo: The Dark Side," at the Henry Fonda Theatre, is not completely new. Some of the same characters and even some of the same lines are still there. However, enough time has passed that their fans probably have forgotten many of the specific lines and can enjoy them again as if they were new.

Once again here are best pals Maddie and Syvvie, now supposedly working as ushers at this very show--although this is a little unclear in the beginning sketch. Maddie is still talking about her gay nephew and his lover and AIDS.

The first half of "The Dark Side" doesn't feel as comfortable at the Fonda as their work did in 1988 at the more intimate theater at LATC. They used the Fonda a few weekends back to tape a version of this show for HBO, and the first half still feels as if it's scaled to the size and scope of TV. The sketches are short and target familiar topics. Virtually everyone around me, halfway back in the orchestra, used the intermission to complain about the sound quality.

The second half was better suited to the space. The length and depth of the pieces allowed the women to play more than one character per sketch, and it was fun to see them recall all of the evening's characters in their closing bit. A Gaffney solo about a protester at an abortion clinic came closest to the "Dark Side," but generally this is not a dark show--Kathy & Mo enjoy the human comedy too much to justify that subtitle.

* "Kathy and Mo: The Dark Side," Henry Fonda Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Tonight, 7 and 10; Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 and 8 p.m. $20. (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000. Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.

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