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STAGE REVIEW

Driven to Total Nuttiness

Park the family at 'Mayfield Mall' for an enjoyable evening of high camp at a live drive-in theater.

July 30, 1998|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The play is not the thing in Wolfskill Theater's "Mayhem at Mayfield Mall" at the Donald M. Jones Memorial Drive-In Playhouse. In fact, Joel Bloom's parody of vintage, low-budget sci-fi movies is thin to the point of emaciation. But don't let the cheerfully lamebrained plot put you off. Ambience is all and high camp prevails in this live drive-in play, a reprise of a 1986 production.

That's right, a live drive-in play. Drive right into the theater--a compact lot in a heavily industrialized downtown neighborhood--turn your radio to the proper FM station, and get ready to giggle under the stars. Directors Michael Shamus Wiles and Karen Maria Schleifer run rings around Bloom's lightweight conceit, eliciting supremely silly performances from a game cast.

Trouble looms when corrupt mall developer J.C. Bullock (Michael Caldwell) builds Mayfield's premiere mega-mall on a toxic waste dump, the site of a monstrous menace. Tired of a steady diet of deadly chemicals, Tommy the Toxic Waste Monster (Damien Repasi and C.J. Mills swathed in about 50 yards of furry fabric) develops an uncontrollable yen for mall-goers. All heck breaks loose when Tommy traps a host of heroes, including go-getting reporter Melissa Mann (Tamar Fortgang) and absent-minded professor B.B. Wingate (Steve Andrews), inside his shopping center death trap.

It takes awhile for the play to get started, but that's a minor annoyance. Bring pillows and a cooler full of treats--or drop into the concession stand in a candlelit adjacent building that apparently doubles as an art gallery. This is a fun scene, pure and simple, where hipsters mingle with pajama-clad kids and a good time is had by all.

BE THERE

"Murder at Mayfield Mall," Donald M. Jones Memorial Drive-In Playhouse, 615 S. Imperial St., Los Angeles. Fridays-Saturdays, 9 p.m. Indefinitely. $40 per 4-door; $30 per 2-door (no SUVs or vans). (213) 613-0986. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

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