Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney parlayed their stage antics into enviable TV and film careers. When Maggie Grant and Lisa Joffrey take over the 28 roles in this two-person evening, we are reminded of Najimy and Gaffney's knack not only for creating nut-ball characters but for invigorating their work with touches of poignancy that are thankfully light and fleeting and that never, ever make you gag.
What is even more impressive, Grant and Joffrey make this show their own, with tight pacing, strong characterizations, and total comedic commitment. Lila Cannon helms this effort. Grant has a particularly strong facility for dialect, whether that of a Southern hooker with a hankering for Kenny Rogers, that of an Eastern European farm woman doing an ad for a feminine hygiene product, or that of Annette Funicello Boticceli, a tough teen Noo Yawker.
Joffrey is equally adept with her characterizations, and the two blaze through the two-hour show perfectly in step, especially in the wordless piece "Silent Torture," in which they perform endless female cleansing, makeup, and dress rituals as if doing a synchronized swim. They score big-time with a feminist dance performance in "Las Hermanas" and show their dramatic chops in a bittersweet take on estranged sisters at their grandmother's wake, with just the right amount of quirk.
Grant and Joffrey perform as if they have known each other for years, and when they rewind through the characters at show's end in a single scene, the audience is not only reminded of Kathy and Mo's writing gifts but also left admiring two actors who have too much personality to be only two people.
"Parallel Lives," presented by 3 Roses Productions at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Jan. 9-Feb. 8. $15-20. (323) 960-7726.