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Naked Girls Drinking

"The goldfish is out of the bowl! The goldfish is out of the bowl!"

Gareth Smith and Michael Nathanson's "Naked Girls Drinking" is about a bunch of New Jersey bar buddies planning to put on a play called, incidentally, "Naked Girls Drinking" ("a non-gay version of 'Naked Boys Singing,'" exclaims one). If that's not enough, the play within the play is being performed at the Kraine Theater, just like the one we're watching. And? well, I'd rather not get into the rest of it.

A sitcom masquerading as a lurid sex comedy, "NGD" is sweet and often funny, in a way that is surprising considering how tame it is. Despite its salacious title, the story is something straight out of "Everybody Loves Raymond": A guy writes a play about a weird breakup he had with a girlfriend, and, while sucking suds at a favorite bar, he gets his Sears co-workers to pony up the money to produce it--which they think, based on the title, will be full of nude young beauties (it's not, of course). And, in one of those sitcom coincidences, the girl of the story starts working in the bar that night and discovers their plan to make a play out of her embarrassing experience. Goofy comedy ensues.

Though the script is a little soft, the sharp cast adeptly keeps the thin plot moving. In particular, Robin Dora Arocha as the bad-luck girl shows excellent comic instincts, as does Alex Fry. Robert J. D'Amato, Smitty and Marshall Correro work well as the crew of wannabe producers, and Morgan Baker (also the director) and the likeable Jeanine Bartel are terrific as the bartender and a gutsy waitress/actress.

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