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THEATER | REVIEW

`Dirty' homeless vet raises awareness

July 28, 2006|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

Sharp provocative purpose creases across "Dirty White Tuxedo Pants" at the Globe Playhouse. Beneath its charitable aims and agitprop trappings, Michael McFall's post-Brechtian study of a homeless veteran on the mean Los Angeles streets has intractable vitality.

Subtitled " ... and a brown plastic bag," the hourlong work, part of author-performer McFall's "Driftnet Urban Opera" series, is inspired by McFall's uncle, who served in Vietnam and became a derelict upon returning.

"Tuxedo Pants," whose proceeds partially benefit New Directions Inc., a nonprofit organization for homeless veterans, raises consciousness with sly guerrilla ingenuity. The neo-Shakespearean venue, strewn with graffiti-edited campaign posters, creates a satirical netherworld that the San Francisco Mime Troupe would instantly recognize. While a doo-wop chorus made up of real-life vets in recovery cautions and cajoles him, disenfranchised H.G. (McFall, profoundly committed) steers his shopping cart about from the Westside to downtown. His scabrous vaudeville descent, uproarious and rending at once, ends with a quietly poetic flag ceremony that silences the house.

Co-directors Vinnie K. DeRamus and Josiah Polhemus smartly wield the invaluable New Directions Choir -- Gary Bergner, Glenn Berry, Sharon Frochen, Carleton Griffin, George Hill and John E. Hill -- around McFall's stunning centrifuge. The uncredited designs have low-budget dash, and if the prototypes that H.G. encounters have the broad contours associated with 12-step benefit shows, this seems wholly appropriate.

Anthony Belcher's sanguine announcer and Patricia A. Lewis' disaffected bureaucrat make effective poles of comment. Tohoru Masamune as a posturing newscaster and Kasey Haley as a nubile runaway have less room for subtleties, but their sardonic turns serve "Dirty White Tuxedo Pants," which achieves results as pungent as an underpass and as lingering as shrapnel.

*

'Dirty White Tuxedo Pants'

Where: Globe Playhouse, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

Ends: Aug. 12

Price: $20 to $25

Contact: (323) 960-4429 or www.plays411.com

Running time: 1 hour

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