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Despite Fine Efforts, It Barely Makes the 'Cut'

September 08, 2000|-F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

Sacred Fools Theater Company seems to have most of the elements of a successful theatrical production entity: enthusiastic performers, inventive designers and indubitably proficient directors--all tried and true talent on tap in this young company's creative pipeline.

What the company lacks, in this reviewer's experience, is material worthy of its expertise and capabilities. Louis Peter Cimino's "Cut, Poison, & Burn" typifies this shortcoming. This haphazardly structured play purports to be a serious examination of corruption and malfeasance in the field of cancer treatment and research; instead, it's a patchwork of fringe beliefs, conspiracy theories and downright doctor bashing so impossibly muddle-headed, it beggars description.

Cimino's New Age soap opera concerns eminent pediatric oncologist Lucien DeVito (Mark Bennington), who has just signed on as the star researcher at a top medical center. But when a former cancer patient, now terminal, checks into the hospital, DeVito resorts to illegal treatments--most notably Laetrile therapy--in a last-ditch effort to save her life. When state investigators uncover his secret, DeVito faces criminal charges that could end his career.

Bennington makes for a prepossessing hero, and Amy Motta is both attractive and dynamic as the attorney who takes a personal interest in both his methods and his case. Director Dave P. Moore, who also designed the set, has completely reconfigured the space to resemble a surgical operating theater, with the audience looking down on the action from above. Moore moves his large cast with the purpose and momentum of a crack emergency room team, but their material is D.O.A.

* "Cut, Poison, & Burn," Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends Sept. 23. $12. (310) 281-8337. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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