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THEATER BEAT

'Rock, Paper, Sunday' Doesn't Quite Cut It

September 05, 1997|JANA J. MONJI

The Groundlings' second-string Sunday company is very uneven in "Rock, Paper, Sunday," at the Groundling Theatre.

This new show will make you laugh, even if it's just embarrassed tittering, despite some less-than-wonderful skits and sometimes lackluster improv.

Some improvs meandered aimlessly, and on this particular Sunday, the actors seemed puzzled over what exactly a ferret is. Hint: not a rodent. A few skits depend upon juvenile humor such as "It Figures," in which a university live-model sketch course becomes a gawk-fest that even the payoff punch line can't quite justify.

The best segments happened when physical comedy and characterization melded. Heather McDonald plays a troubled and bitter aromatherapist who encounters former high school friends (Bonnie Burroughs and Mary Manofsky) in a restaurant restroom in "Remember Me." Ken Polk is hilarious in "World's Worst Mime," and he is memorably creepy as a nerdy game show winner who pesters his neighbor while flying "First Class." In "Letter to Maureen," although the overall construction of the skit is questionable, Steve Pierce's portrayal of a nervous geek in love with Amy von Freymann's cheap trash floozy is comically endearing.

The ending improv, a musical number about Roswell, was well done, a credit to both the players and musical director Ted Zambetti and Willie Etra on keyboards. Director Mindy Sterling manages to get the most out of the material on the bill and is bravely willing to challenge her ensemble with daunting improv topics.

*

* "Rock, Paper, Sunday," Groundling Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Indefinitely. $12. (213) 934-9700. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

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