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TRÈS GRIMM!

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Producer/writer George Larkin's evening of adaptations of the Grimm brothers' fairy tales suffers from a confusion of styles, talents, and tone. The straightforward presentational format of the evening—along with often slipshod writing, acting, and directing—makes for an overlong mishmash.

These versions of several lesser-known stories are adapted in a variety of styles, ranging from singsong beatnik jive to solemn Story Theater incantation. They all share a certain opacity in their narrative, which is probably due more to the weak adaptations than to the thinness of these particular tales.

The evening features the work of 10 writers and eight directors, which may also contribute to the evening's lack of focus. Although none of these adaptations is particularly coherent, probably the most entertaining is "The Fox and the Geese," adapted by Alexis Wesley and directed by L. Flint Esquerra. In this piece, actors portray geese who are being eyed hungrily by a fox—entertaining fare, but not much above a decent college production.

"Master Pfriem," written by Brenda Varda and directed by Esquerra, portrays an abusive employer who is dispatched to the pearly gates, only to discover that he may be denied entrance. Christopher Spencer is charming in the role of Master Pfriem and in several other roles during the evening.

The longer, more complicated stories—such as "The Dark Sisters," written by Robert Hensley and directed by Chane't Johnson, and "The Miller's Daughter," written by Chantal Bilodeau and directed by Esquerra—have a few engaging moments but for the most part seem to meander around the narrative.

Overall the acting is thin, either because of the limitations of the actors or because of the lack of strong guidance from the directors. The production values are also quite weak, with little scenic focus and costumes that appear haphazard. Although budget limitations rarely have anything to do with quality, in this case the weak production values highlight the lack of focus of the whole evening and cast a pall over the proceedings. Larkin has had success with early incarnations of the Grimm adaptations and may simply have run out of steam in this third, apparently final, outing.

"Très Grimm!," presented by and at the MET Theatre,1089 Oxford Ave., Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Jan. 30-Mar. 6. $15-20. (323) 957-1152.

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