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THEATER REVIEWS

Lacking Comic Expertise, 'Full Moon' Comes Up Empty

May 11, 1996|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CYPRESS — Playwright Norman Krasna wrote a lot of potboiling sitcoms for the Broadway stage, up until that genre's dying gasps in the late 1960s. They were all craftsmanlike, simplistic and required comic expertise to pull off.

Cypress Civic Theatre's staging of Krasna's "Full Moon" is without that expertise and provides a good example of why Krasna's work is rarely produced today.

Cathy (Katy Strote) lives in a converted apartment in Greenwich Village, writes book reviews and radio soaps for a living, but she's dying to be an actress.

As the play begins, she brings home David (Anthony Garrett), who is really an architect, but is dying to be an actor. They've just been cast in an off-Broadway comedy that requires a seduction scene, and they're both dying to rehearse. Of course, this was the '60s, and of course they're in the bedroom before the plot really starts boiling.

The play's a success, but Cathy's father, Col. Temple (Dick Callanan), is turned by his daughter, with the help of actress friend Crystal (Cleta Cohen), into an aging sugar-daddy to make David jealous. David's performance, both on stage and in the bedroom, suffers. That's how things happened in those days, but everything is righted in the end, and wedding bells ring in the audience's ears as they leave the theater.

Director Thomas R. Moore has little awareness of what makes this type of trivia work. His tempos are way too leisurely, and he is content to skim the surface of the script.

Moore also is sketchy on guiding his actors, who likewise rarely get below the script's surface. In only one scene, at the beginning of Act 2, do Strote and Garrett catch fire for a few minutes, and suddenly the play and their performances come alive, crisp and sharp. It's a short scene.

Otherwise, all is bland, including a performance by Cohen, as the brittle actress friend, that is destroyed by her tendency to rattle off lines with no indication of intent. It's all as close to reality as Moore's set design, which looks more like a split-level California tract home than a converted Village apartment.

Plays like this only look easy.

* "Full Moon," Cypress Civic Theatre, 5172 Orange Ave. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; matinee Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends May 25. $8. (714) 229-6796. Running time: 2 hours.

Katy Strote: Cathy Temple

Anthony Garrett: David Dillon

Cleta Cohen: Crystal Leroy

Dick Callanan: Col. Temple

A Cypress Theatre Guild production of Norman Krasna's comedy, produced by Al & Claire Weinberg. Directed by Thomas R. Moore. Scenic design: Thomas R. Moore. Lighting design: Craig Harreld. Costume design/stage manager: Debbie Sturt. Makeup design: Celese Snyder.

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