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Anarchic Energy Drives 'Monkey'

November 06, 1998|F. Kathleen Foley

Two bumbling confederates, Seth (Ron Campbell) and Horace (Ray Mickshaw), break into a sealed mausoleum to rob a historical artifact from a corpse. Once inside, they discover they are not alone. They are immured for the evening with J.G. FizGig (Lee Arenberg), a "narcoleptic lunatic" long presumed dead who also happens to be the father of satellite technology. However, FizGig's ranting reminiscences are very much to the point.

In "Mummified Monkey" at the Actors' Gang, writer-director Chris Bell displays a Pynchonesque preoccupation with physics, drifting from quantum to conspiracy theory with dizzying abandon. An indictment of consumer-driven technological pollution, "Monkey" is a hallucinogenic melange that, given a prosaic staging, could easily have degenerated into drool.

Fortunately, Bell, a theatrical Terry Gilliam on a shoestring, infuses his work with anarchic energy and a stunning visual sense. Talented actors all, Campbell, Mickshaw and Arenberg pull out the stops in their high-decibel, hilarious performances, twitching, twirling and capering with simian disregard for their own personal dignity. They risk making absolute fools of themselves--and the tactic works beautifully. The mayhem is further abetted by Larry Basso's superb set and lighting, and John Zalewski's excellent sound.

*

* "Mummified Monkey," Actors' Gang El Centro Space, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Ends Nov. 25. $12. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 1 hour.

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