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LA Theater Review

1985

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Okay, were the '80s really 20 years ago? Big hair and boy bands seem at if they were just yesterday-to some of us, at least. A 20-year high school reunion is the welcome excuse that writer-directors Todd Milliner and Robert Mello use to revisit decidedly frightening '80s moments and slap together sketches performed by an appealing group of mostly thirtysomething actors. In the almost formulaic world of sketch comedy, this isn't a particularly edgy or racy evening. But 1985 knows its territory--teenage angst and dysfunctional dating and sexual discovery--and as a late-night outing that's fun and loose and short and sweet, ultimately it's pretty darn hilarious.

Along with Milliner (who performed in the show reviewed) and Mello, the cast played a part in developing some of the material, which shows: Sketches are tailored to the considerable talents of the individual performers. Justin O'Connor has a nice, solid presence-along with good spandex in one of the evening's fabulous musical flashbacks; the versatile Milliner is a riot wherever and whenever he pops up; and Wyatt Fenner is a dangerously sweet young thing who happens to be talented, too. A quirky and cocky E. Michael Collins shifts gears easily and finds the comic truth in all of his roles, and Robert Poe is hugely funny as the best, most understanding dad a homosexual could ever ask for-not that you'd want him at Thanksgiving dinner.

Although sketch comedy is notoriously male-dominated, credit to these guys for being surprisingly even-handed and giving the babes a few big laughs. Of course it helps that the women in the cast are really, really good and hold their own even in material written from a man's perspective. Mary Buckley is sharp, self-assured, and always on-track; Joanna Leeds is lovely and focused; and whether she's a high school nerd, lovesick polyglot, or bachelorette who keeps her best friend close at hand, the amazing Jennifer Burton one of funniest things I've seen onstage in a good long while.

Oh, and as a last note: Thanks to the writers for the consistently clever buttons closing each bit; if comedy is hard, endings are harder.

Presented by and at the Celebration Theatre, 7051B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 10:30 p.m. Nov. 11-Dec. 10. (323) 957-1884

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