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THEATER BEAT

Celebrity and Other Hollywood Evils

October 06, 1995|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

Legendary Hollywood star attempts suicide and winds up in a private sanitarium for mental patients.

"Asylum" at the Actors' Gang uses this premise as a launching pad for an original satire on celebrity and the evils of the Hollywood system. Written by Mitch Watson and directed by Michael Schlitt, Watson's piece was "developed in workshop" by the company.

Perhaps it's a case of too many cooks, but the resulting mishmash, a sort of cross between "Network" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," only occasionally reaches the heights of iconoclastic irreverence that have distinguished many of the Gang's previous productions.

In flashback sequences, the celebrity, Charlie Brand (Don Luce), strives to remember what exactly happened to him at a desert multiplex back in the late '70s. The audience is teased into believing that once Charlie pieces the puzzle of his past together, some sense will be made of the random plot. Despite the determined efforts of a talented cast, the long-awaited payoff never comes. Not that one expects linear progression from an Actors' Gang production, but this overlong, meandering effort makes one long to escape this "Asylum."

* "Asylum," Actors' Gang, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends Oct. 28. $15. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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