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LATE NIGHT FAST AND LOOSE

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In proper sacred and foolish spirit, I'll try to be quick about this. And loose. There's this thing that Sacred Fools has been doing for a while now in a 24-hour timeframe: Its members get a bunch of their usual suspects together and make plays under the gun. (Not a real gun. At least I don't think so.) The deal is that these guys (and I'm using that in a non-gender-specific way) create what they call "overnight theatre" by giving four writers, at 10 p.m., random ideas picked from a hat, and the playwrights come up with short plays by morning, and the plays are randomly cast by random directors and rehearsed (assumedly not randomly) for a show that opens (and closes) late that night.

My take? This is an excellent thing. And what's even more impressive is that this is the 21st round of Fast and Loose the Fools have managed to squeeze out along with their other mainstage, off-night, and regular late-night shows.

What to expect from this sort of deadline-driven madness? Kamikaze performances by fearless actors (Brandon Clark's pathetic dancing cowboy or Holly Gabrielson's uniquely un-date-able woman, anyone?), ridiculous situations slapped onstage with an impressive amount of writerly polish (gotta admire Paul Plunkett and Scott Stein; Jenelle Riley's forgivably formula take on speed dating is wonderfully funny, and Aaron Francis' worrisome outing of male bonding should not be forgotten), and some gutsy directorial swipes that manage to pull the evening together (thanks, Jacob Sidney Dietzman: Who knew the secrets unintentionally revealed by men wrestling in shorts?). Oh, and there's free beer.

Paying homage to the dead-at-last by forcing "Reaganisms" on the writers, making fantastic use of the way-Southwest setting currently on the Sacred Fools stage, throwing together some very silly costumes and sound effects/music/ what-have-you that add that perfect last-minute touch—and the whole hosted by an easy and charming Henry Dittman—it seems to me that Late Night Fast and Loose is pretty much all that it can be.

"Late Night Fast and Loose," presented by and at the Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood. Fri. 11 p.m. May 21-June 25. $10. (310) 281-8337.

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