Bruce and Shirley are indefatigable hambones, determined to make it big in show business. There's a problem, though. Both are so absolutely without talent that they can't get arrested in Hollywood. Or maybe they can--after they kidnap an up-and-coming film director in a desperate ploy to get cast.
Sound familiar? It should. Alec Holland and Melissa Samuels' "Triple Threats" at the Third Street Theater is a comic retread--a glorified comedy sketch that, even though it runs only a bit more than an hour, has been stretched to the groaning point.
The play is an effective showcase for Holland and Samuels, who bring an inspired quirkiness to the mix, lacing their overly familiar plot with just enough dark details and unlikely situations to maintain momentum.
Holland is laughably narcissistic as the sexually repressed Bruce, a wannabe superstar whose sole credit to date was a community theater "Pippin"--directed by his mother. (Even then he had to secretly sabotage the lead.) Samuels is especially hilarious as the gullible Shirley, a naif who is so much Bruce's creature that she submitted to having a foot cut off--all for the settlement money that will facilitate their bid for stardom. When the money comes in, she might even get a prosthetic foot that fits--if there's enough left over after Bruce's head shots.
In a thankless and largely unmotivated role, Mark Fite plays the director who rents a room from these loonies. That this guy puts up with even one-tenth of Bruce and Shirley's deranged antics remains as unlikely as Bruce and Shirley's career expectations.
Scott R. Davis' lighting and Mike Conner's deliberately kitschy set are terrific. Director Steve Rudnick wisely lets Holland and Samuels romp without much interference--but his actors are ultimately battling their own meager material.
* "Triple Threats," Third Street Theater, 8140 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends Feb. 26. $12. (323) 692-8087. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.