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Short on logic, long on laughs

October 02, 2003|F. Kathleen Foley | Special to The Times

Forget Magic Mountain. For a wild ride, try "Play Things," Jon Colton Barry's "rampaging" comedy at the Hudson Backstage.

Barry's weird blend can best be described as vaudevillian dada, a bizarre melange in which scenes tumble into other scenes with very little reason but with off-the-wall hilarity. For instance, a couple meet at a restaurant for a blind date -- a comical instance in and of itself. Then, in an apparently unrelated shift, another couple cavort through the scene bent on a clandestine adventure, while the first couple look on in befuddlement. A dapper reporter, who appears from under a pastry cart, explains that the restaurant has just been the scene of a "spontaneous" theater production.

Meanwhile, in a particularly Monty Python-esque episode, killer penguins -- the evening's dinner special -- run amok and savage the restaurant's staff.

You get the gist. Although it overstays its welcome by a scene or two, the play is, for the most part, inspired inanity. However, it's not so much the play that is the thing, as the seamless combination of the play with Irene Tassiopulos' high-turbulence direction. Set designer Timothy Ford Hannon's garish movable flats, painted by Jose Perez from concepts by Adam LeBow and Barry, are apt backdrops for this live-action cartoon, which plays like a collaboration between Tex Avery and Salvador Dali.

The blissfully comic actors -- Lina Acosta, Ernie Grunwald, Danny Jacobs, Victoria Kelleher, Jonathan Klein, LeBow, Kimberly Lewis, Lynn Odell, Michael Oosterom and Kiff Scholl -- mug and double-take like "Your Show of Shows" veterans, giving just the right retro fillip to this surreal, side-splitting performance.


'Play Things'

Where: Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood

When: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.

Ends: Oct. 26

Price: $15

Info: (323) 856-4200, Ext. 23

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

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