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Spies, karate kicks and super-tight miniskirts

The double entendres fly in `The Defenders,' a delirious spoof of '60s espionage shows.

March 09, 2007|Charlotte Stoudt | Special to The Times

What fate supposedly befell Mrs. Peel's husband in "The Avengers"? What was Number Six's real name in "The Prisoner"? Was David McCallum's haircut in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." really cool or just stupid-looking?

If you can definitively answer these questions, or just want to see a lot of fit performers in revealing outfits karate kick their way through a 90-minute spy spoof, "The Defenders" is for you.

Written, directed and choreographed by Brian Frette, who also stars as turban-wearing, ninja-thrashing uber-spy St. John Smythe, "The Defenders" lovingly pays homage to those classic '60s espionage shows. Witty, disciplined and gorgeous to look at, "The Defenders," now at [Inside] the Ford, deserves a smart audience and long run.

After a number of top agents are killed in the field -- one of them giving the audience a cellphone reminder and exit information before he expires -- Smythe teams with counterspy Carrington Lovegrove (Christine Deaver) to stop the mayhem and keep the world safe for double entendres. Naturally, there's a secret formula, a missing scientist (Rainbow Underhill), and a beautiful, deadly villain (the formidable Kristi Schultz, working every abbreviated inch of Johnny Apollo's over-the-top costumes).

Like the TV shows on which "The Defenders" is based, the narrative here is only a series of story points on which Frette and his Zoo District company demonstrate how deliciously they can pirouette across the deadpan aesthetics of '60s pop style.

The secret to "The Defenders' " elan is how deftly its elements work together: Katrina Coulourides' black-and-white, geometric set, Frette's stylized choreography, Chad Habig's playful, elegant score. It's this overall kinetic and visual wit that makes "Defenders" such a silly, exhilarating pleasure.

*

`The Defenders'

Where: [Inside] the Ford, 2580 E. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays

Ends: March 24

Price: $12 to $17

Contact: (323) 461-3673

Running time: 90 minutes

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