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THEATER REVIEW

Real pearl among `Swine'

Sacred Fools' jewel `The Swine Show' makes dark, twisted comic fodder of celebrity culture.

June 07, 2007|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

A nation in which the public lives to be shocked and an inbred masochist can become the biggest star in history supplies the twisted crux of "The Swine Show." In its hilariously trenchant revival at Sacred Fools, writer-director Paul Plunkett's unswerving satire on our culture of celebrity is deliriously wrong and exactly right.

Written in 1995, "Swine" was part of Sacred Fools' inaugural 1997-98 season. Today its sardonic point seems terribly prescient. Plunkett goes for the black comic jugular, aping the lofty stance of countless docudramas, complete with jovial narrator (Adam Bitterman).

Born to siblings from somewhere beyond Tobacco Road, hapless Swine (the memorable Brendan Hunt) has one talent: to absorb abuse. This dubious ability takes him from the Chicken Brothers Sideshow on Wheels to global superstardom and back, broken but game at the synoptic finale.

Interspersed throughout are interviews with various Swine-witnesses, such as brother Goat (Joe Hendrix) and sister Cow (Franci Montgomery), lawyer Stubby Scarborough (Rafeal Clements) and epically clueless Dr. Jane Hunkle (Ruth Silveira).

Plunkett's adroit staging brings his subversive travesty to unsettling life amid the spare scrims and panels of production designer Michael Franco. These form a nightmare palette for Andy Dobson's black-white-and-pink costumes, Cricket Sloat's eerie lighting, Tim Labor's snide sound and the wicked songs by Plunkett and composer Richard Levinson.

Hunt, whose physical and facial eloquence should make Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert very nervous, is a revelation as Swine. The terrific ensemble circles him like vultures on acid, playing dozens of roles with rapt versatility.

Scott Leggett's sausage-wielding Momma, Donna Giffen's wealthy gargoyle and Supatra Hanna's commercial sponsor are perhaps the most outrageous turns, but everyone is an unhinged hoot. Their inspired dementia propels this virtual "E! True Hollywood Story" gone Dada.

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`The Swine Show'

Where: Sacred Fools, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays

Ends: June 30

Price: $20

Contact: (310) 281-8337 or www.sacredfools.org

Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

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