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THEATER BEAT

Acme Comedy Effort Eager but Uneven

August 25, 1995|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

When you're No. 2, you try harder. In "Bravo Company: Shrink Wrapped for Your Protection," the eager young beavers in Acme Comedy Theatre's second string virtually chew up the scenery in their single-minded pursuit of laughs, of which this generally uneven production yields a fair share.

The evening begins brightly with a sketch about a playgoer (Jeff Lewis, also the writer) who develops a wildly inappropriate crush on his pretty usher (Carolyn Hennesy). Lewis scores again with co-writer Scott Kreamer in "Two of a Kind," in which two horny guys (Lewis and Kreamer) participate in a disastrous game of strip poker with a couple of gum-chewing party girls (Alex Alexander and Victoria Delaney.)

Hennesy and Alexander play two delightfully macabre young British sisters who are bad seeds, kudzu-style. Delaney's lip-synced "It Must Be Him" gives an infectiously silly twist to the old Vikki Carr hit. Hennesy manages fine character work in "Southern Comfort," but her confused monologue has her gushy Civil War-era Southern belle vacillating between derangement and irony.

The second act disappoints. Alex Borstein's marvelously droll "Rainbow Lady" loses its impact when Borstein repeats essentially the same distinctively British character in an unrelated sketch. Michael Naughton's wonderfully manic-physical comedy, displayed so effectively in the first act, degenerates into undisciplined scene-stealing. Even company stalwart Lewis gets caught in a couple of lackluster pieces that fail to reflect his earlier promise, proving that no matter how enthusiastic your reception, it's never wise to overstay your welcome.

* "Bravo Company: Shrink Wrapped for Your Protection," Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. Thursdays only, 8 p.m. Indefinitely. $12. (213) 525-0202. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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