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Catrix

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At the risk of bombast, this work, written by Amy Tofte, is not only bereft of sense, it also gratuitously slaps the audience in the face with shameless, disjointed references to the Holocaust and AIDS, while laboring under the wafer-thin guise of being a murder mystery.

While the task is akin to describing a multi-car pileup, let us summarize the plot. Tofte attempts to portray all the major characters, beginning with Cat Danielson, CEO of Catrix Toys, which has marketed repugnant playthings that would in real life never see the light of day. More puzzling, Cat, who occasionally speaks in Dr. Seuss-esque meter, has sunk his claws into executive assistant Irene, who is jealous of Cat's affair with Rosa, a Russian emigre so naive that she agreed to dance at a strip club, thinking it was patriotic. Tofte's Russian accent sounds more Asian than anything else, and she pronounces the Russian equivalent of "goodbye" as "dos vidiana," twice.

The true terror of the evening comes in Tofte's clumsy depiction of Cat's mother, a survivor of the Holocaust, now in a sanitarium. In tasteless style, she shrieks and bemoans her fate and constantly asks for a phone. Unable to create a coherent strand among these denizens, Tofte again depicts a man, a Jewish detective who attempts to unravel the sludge of a plot, which now includes the murder of Irene's ex-husband, a former child pornographer. The only things we are missing at this point are mangled puppies on a stick.

Director David Watkins Jr. indulges Tofte's every mood, making this unendurable, even at 80 minutes. Whiny synthesizer music and a consistent but muddled reference to thunderclaps and rain reinforce the failure of this work, which, according to the program, was generated when Tofte created a composite character during an improvisation. The utterly depressing set is partly aluminum foil and a spray-painted skyline on sheets of plastic, which one yearns to slash with a knife. Making this abysmal effort complete is the decision to use actors Mark Dennis and Angie Fox to move props and costumes and sing unrealistically long commercial jingles for toys, which include a concentration camp with action figures.

Such indulgent, chaotic, poorly conceived, and inevitably offensive work does no credit to the Los Angeles stage.

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