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Theater | STAGE REVIEW

'Absolute' Enjoyment

May 01, 1997|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Founded in 1990, the Acme Comedy Theatre has had its fair share of funny shows in the seven years since its inception. However, the Acme Players really hit their stride in "Absolute Acme," an evening of inspired nonsense that impressively showcases this up-and-coming company.

Some of these performers have been with the group since its beginning. Others have worked their way up through the ranks of Acme's second-string Bravo Company. Whatever their origins or tenure, the present players are slickly professional, playing off one another with the practiced playfulness of what is obviously a comfortable association. M.D. Sweeney once again helms the proceedings, with music director/keyboardist Jonathan Green and drummer Christian Malmin providing sprightly accompaniment.

A few potentially funny sketches fall victim to poor enunciation, the most extreme example of which is a largely incomprehensible 1940s period sketch featuring two bitterly scrapping studio starlets (Antoinette Spolar and Audrey Rapoport).

Fortunately, there are more than enough laughs to make up for those lost in the fast and furious comic shuffle. Here, the best sketches also tend to be the simplest. Playing a boozy, loud-mouthed couple separated at a formal function, Stefane Zamorano and Jerry Lambert simply try to find each other--with riotous results. As a resolute dieter unexpectedly confronted with a chocolate cake, Alex Alexander gets huge laughs with her extravagantly horrified reactions to her high-calorie nemesis.

Lambert also scores as an ex-con who terrorizes his daughter's boyfriend (Scott Kreamer) with a stream of incomprehensible non sequiturs as nonsensical as they are menacing. Spolar once again plays a histrionically hyperkinetic Liza Minnelli, here performing a hilariously clashing duet with Tori Amos, played to a near-catatonic turn by Susie Geiser. Just hearing these two team on "Cornflake Girl" is worth the price of admission.

BE THERE

"Absolute Acme," Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. Saturdays, 8 p.m. Runs indefinitely. $14. (213) 525-0202. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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