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LA Theater Review

Dirty Laundry

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Dan Acre's script receives its world premiere but should have been workshopped, rewritten, or left on the shelf. In his tale of a quartet of jobless, lifeless, slothful lowlifes, Acre has absorbed all of the worst facets of TV sitcom: the stereotypical characters who never really converse because their words are designed only as a reflection of the situation; the low-energy, witless humor; the maudlin moments that arise in the most bizarre places. Whether director Brian Kojac made an honest effort to propel this dreck or simply gave up and left his cast to its own designs is a mystery, but this is a showcase for mugging, overacting, and just plain bad acting.

Twice-divorced Roy Brant (R. Anthony Martinez) agrees to allow his wayward nephew, Kenny (Adam Poynter), to live with him despite Roy's life of collecting disability checks and boozing it up with his equally unambitious roomies: rodeo cowboy-singer Dort (John Dimitri), braggadocio and self-professed stud Jimbo (Todd Langwell), and the quiet Smith (Bill Wooten), who does the cooking and cleaning. Kenny is a confused teen who drinks, curses, and steals; Roy and pals drink, curse, and behave like high school students, and therein lies the problem: Acre doesn't differentiate between the teen and the adults. Kenny is neither a serious delinquent nor a good kid with nowhere to go, and the reaction of Roy's pals to the kid's presence is to continue on as usual. Dort sings his lone hit song, "Ghost Cowboy," an enjoyably funny country tune written by Acre. The play's sophomoric humor and wearying sameness are punctuated only by Alison Axelrad as Roy's daughter and Nicole Thorsden as the social worker assigned to straighten Kenny out. Even these roles are sitcom archetypes, but at least the actors provide some much-needed contrast. Amy Puntar's scene design for Roy's aging, cluttered home is wasted.

Presented by and at Stages Theatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 6 p.m. Jul. 12-Aug. 16. (714) 525-4484. www.stagesoc.org.

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