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THEATER REVIEWS

Overdone Story Lines in 'Happy Hour'

April 01, 1998|T.H. McCULLOH

ANAHEIM — According to astronomers, an immense asteroid is heading toward Earth and will either brush by us or crash in the year 2028. That cheery discovery is at the core of Mitchel Faris' comedy "Happy Hour" at Stages.

The play takes place now, in Don Fajita's Grill and Bar, and though the shock of the potential disaster has slightly worn off, it still has dark implications for the staff and some of the customers. In fact, it has too many implications for its own good.

The owner of the Don Fajita franchise, Patrick O'Hoolie (Kreg Donahoe), is fed up with his wife's flagrant infidelities and wants to move back to Chicago before the end, making pizza for his beer-guzzling buddies.

His wife, Trina (Shauna Leann Daigle), lustfully enmeshed with a Latino stud (David Mitchell Lolis), ignores impending doom and wants only to shovel as many customers through the restaurant as possible to support her lifestyle.

That would be enough for one play, but Faris makes the young playwright's frequent mistake of overkill, with too many additional story lines to give the play any shape.

One of the waiters, Brad Daily (Steve Mayeda), has to desert his job before the asteroid hits to enter the world's most prestigious surfing contest.

A kooky street preacher, Father Arturo (Tony Faris), rants doom while waving a Bible.

A disgruntled missile-factory worker (Teresa Carrillo) is getting sloppy drunk because she helped build the orbiting telescope that spotted the object.

Yes, there's more: A subplot involving a young architect and his wife (Kevin Moynahan, Melanie Baker), who are at odds over having a baby, is complicated by the husband's architectural cohort, J.C. Zoeller (Vince Parenti), who has made contact with famous architect Roderick Purklie (Richard Ransbottom).

Purklie, dreading the asteroid, has thrown over his business and left his wife to live out his remaining time in his secretly built castle in Mexico and wants Zoeller to live there with him as his toy-boy.

Faris has thrown everything into his plot except the restaurant's kitchen sink, but the constant rush of dirty dishes going through the service door hint at the sink's deep involvement.

The company struggles within the play's television-oriented limitations, stumbling into a lot of overacting that's been allowed by director Tracy Perdue. Her decision to let actors step forward in a spotlight for pointless monologues that could have been integrated into the dialogue sometimes destroys the bright tempo she has set up.

Surviving the struggle for the most part are Patti Cumby as the restaurant's businesslike bartender, Donahoe as the luckless owner of the franchise, Parenti and Moynahan as the young architects. Their solid reserve serves the comedy best, but heavy handling by most of the others tends to expose the play's flaws, although Mayeda and Daigle manage to be funny even at their high level of buffoonery.

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* "Happy Hour," Stages, 1188 N. Fountain Way, Suite E, Anaheim. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday. $10. Ends Sunday. (714) 630-3059. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Kreg Donahoe: Patrick O'Hoolie

Shauna Leann Daigle: Trina O'Hoolie

Steve Mayeda: Brad Daily

Patti Cumby: Jan

David Mitchell Lolis: Guillermo

Melanie Baker: Sharon Ogilve

Kevin Moynahan: Ryan Ogilve

Vince Parenti: J.C. Zoeller

Richard Ransbottom: Roderick D. Purklie

Tony Faris: Father Arturo

Teresa Carrillo: Bobbi Killingsworth

A Stages production of Mitchel Faris' comedy. Produced by Brian Kojac. Directed by Tracy Perdue. Scenic design: Rick Lawhorn, Faris. Lighting design: Adam Clark. Sound design: K.C. Mercer.

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