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Theater Beat

Hip-Hop '2G's' Is Always in Motion

May 26, 2000|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

When the operative word for your production is "cute," you're in trouble. Set for no apparent reason in a Milan, Italy, hip-hop club, "2G's," a loose adaptation of "Two Gentlemen of Verona" at the Sacred Fools Theater, is sugar-coated Shakespeare--hellbent on making the Bard accessible to modern-day channel surfers, whose flagging attention spans must be piqued with spectacle at regular intervals.

Sometimes, the tack works, resulting in interludes of great fun and inspired zaniness. More often, however, Shakespeare's text succumbs to the hubbub of this very, very busy evening.

Director Scott Rabinowitz confronts obvious logistical difficulties with varying degrees of success. Particularly problematic are the hip-hop dancers in the primary setting of the Club Milan, who often come across as background distractions--little more than kinesthetic wallpaper. Fortunately, however, Rabinowitz elicits enough strong performances from his leading actors to anchor the dangerously lightweight whole.

Particularly fetching is Ameenah Kaplan as the put-upon Julia, whose lover Proteus (capable R.C. Ormond) does her major dirt. A trained dancer with energy to spare, Kaplan (who was in the original American cast of "Stomp") combines taut physicality with unerring comic instinct. Also noteworthy is Ransford Doherty as the lovelorn Valentine, whose planned elopement with the beautiful Silvia (Gretchen Morgan) is derailed by Proteus' malevolent scheme.

Opening night technical difficulties made it hard to assess Aaron Francis' overall production design, but Joe Hernandez-Kolski's choreography is key to the fun, as are the delightfully funky costumes by Elif Inanc and Mary Hayes. The first half of the show drags its hip-hopping heels, but the second is enlivened by the arrival of three offbeat outlaws, played to a crisp comic turn by Matthew Yang King, Jeffrey Landman and Peter Anthony Moore. Joe Jordan also delivers as the drag queen Cherie G'Lamour, whose fantastically attenuated form is one of the most striking sight gags of the night.

*

* "2G's," Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends June 17. $10. (310) 281-8337. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

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