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LA Theater Review

The ID and Bob

Jed Seidel's gay romantic comedy is such a featherweight commodity that the entire shebang seems in danger of being swept right off the stage and out onto Lillian Way should a moderate breeze commence. Yet there are attractive and talented farceurs on hand to ensure that the script's zingers gets their full due, and director Joe Salazar keeps the 75 minutes of easygoing gags consistently entertaining and uplifting.

Though the overworked central gimmick-a chorus of various characters in the protagonist's life lurking in the background voicing his innermost thoughts-is more often superfluous than effective, the journey of wannabe journalist Matt (Ken Barnett) to conquer insecurities in his quest for love and career satisfaction is hilarious in its own right. Set in present-day Manhattan, Seidel's script takes a mildly sardonic view of the urban gay dating scene and the frustrations of moving beyond college degree to yuppie success. The central story device involves the loopy relationship between Matt and the self-centered kook Bob (understudy Paul Tigue, subbing for Rex Lee), which is arranged by Matt's well-intentioned straight brother, Scott (Blaine Vedros). Nice-guy Matt-in other words, pushover-gets corralled into a courtship he doesn't want, while pining for Bob's hunky roommate (Chris Prinzo). In the time-honored tradition of romantic comedy, no one will be surprised by the ending.

The highly appealing Barnett makes the most of the lead role as a comic neurotic-sort of a gentile Woody Allen with a preppy flair. Prinzo exudes the requisite charm as the is-he-or-isn't-he-gay love interest. The most laughs per minute are scored by Tigue as the effete fussbudget Bob-the ultimate date from hell who manipulates what should have been a single-night disaster into an ongoing irritant, like hemorrhoids. Other standouts in the spry 13-member ensemble include Jessica Randle as the anal-retentive boss at Matt's stifling temp job, and Adam Huss as the more sensible side of Matt's befuddled psyche. In its handsomely mounted premiere rendition, Seidel's piece gains additional points for rising above the sleazy muck that once dominated the gay-farce genre.

Presented by More Patience Productions at the Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Jun. 15-Jul. 22. (866) 794-7529.

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