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HOLIDAY THEATER ROUNDUP

BOB'S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY / Theatre/Theater, HOLLYWOOD

December 12, 2000|PHILIP BRANDES

Insurance claims roasting on an open fire, beer cans nipping at your nose. . . . It can only mean one thing: The hilariously deranged populace of Neuterberg, Iowa, is reveling once again in "Bob's Holiday Office Party."

The title's yuletide allusion and tacky Christmas ornaments notwithstanding, this is essentially the same "Bob's Office Party" that's been flaunting its shameless lowbrow antics, off and on, since its inception five years ago as an improv piece. With minor updates, the show returns to its venue roots at Theatre/Theater.

Familiarity is evidently not an issue for hard-core Bobophiles, some of whom are sure to be on hand to loudly greet the appearance of their favorite characters and their plentiful helpings of outrageous slapstick, bad puns and small-town neuroses. Co-creators Rob Elk and Joe Keyes are in top form in their respective roles of Bob, the compassionate insurance agent who dreams of a bigger life in Des Moines, and Joe, the good old-boy sheriff with a casual approach to law enforcement.

Also returning are Melissa Denton and Maile Flanagan as "Fargo"-esque farm sisters, Mark Fite as an addle-brained doper and Pat O'Brien as the former high school nerd bent on vengeance for his tormentors. Ann Randolph reprises her dual roles, first as a repressed minister's wife and later as the show-stealing strumpet. Peter Breitmayer and Melissa Peterman appear as the closeted gay mayor and his obsessive wife.

The cast all hail from the Minneapolis-Iowa heartland; with luck, they're reaping therapeutic benefits as they render these characters with such frightening authenticity.

* 6425 Hollywood Blvd., 4th floor, Hollywood. Friday, Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. Ends Sunday. $10. (323) 871-9433. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.

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