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THEATER BEAT

Wild and Witty 'If I Were Lost' Details an Antihero's Eventful Journey

August 09, 1996|JANA J. MONJI

Brian Gross is anything but lost in his keenly focused, wildly naughty multimedia musical "If I Were Lost" at Highways, about the ultimate antihero--a lustful gay druggie named Bill (Blaine Cotton).

Bill is ostensibly looking for inner peace in the desert but is distracted by his abundant cravings for sexual encounters and drugs. His first temptation is a black leather boy-toy named Dante (Joe Decker), who takes pleasure in stealing away other men's boyfriends. He recovers from that with a short-lived affair with a nice white-collar boyfriend, Carl (Daniel McVey), who can barely conceal his rage over childhood slights, dirty old man John (Mike Kelly), his drug dealer Jack (Ray Flournoy) and an underage pseudo-Latino femme boy Roberto (James R. Saavedra) among others.

Gross gives sly nods to gay cultural icons, having Bill receive guidance from a Glenda the Good Witch figure named Comet (Christine Schoenwald), who freely dispenses condoms to audience members. Director Mike Kelly successfully treads the fine line between raunchy and tasteless. The entire ensemble attacks this piece with great appreciation for the wicked humor and the sly skewering of gay life.

Yet for all that is so right and unprintable, the very last scene, where the cast members sing "I look good in yellow," bears only a rather tenuous connection to the body of the play, only through a program note: "Do we know if we're lost? And if we are, what are we lost from? Maybe we're already home. Maybe we're already butterflies. Light, free, fragile and yellow."

* "If I Were Lost," Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Tonight-Sunday, 8:30 p.m. Ends Sunday. $15. (213) 660-TKTS. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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