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New York Theater

Bag Fulla Money

In the English-speaking theatre, traditional farce is now uncommon; in America, it is almost an endangered species. With its structural demands and its requisite measure of silliness, the form has always been more popular with British than with American audiences. So it's interesting to see a young American writer, Scott Brooks, try his hand at a genuine farce, complete with a tricky plot and the necessary number of doors. And even if the effort is more worthy than the final product, Brooks gets points for trying, given farce's degree of difficulty.

Initially the ingredients look most promising: In the walk-in refrigerator of a kitchen in a luxury hotel, a bag of stolen money is discovered by Oscar (Christopher Wisner), the hotel's pastry chef. Into this kitchen runs kleptomaniac Laverne (Diana DeLaCruz) clutching her latest stolen token, hotly pursued by her gambler husband, Jonesy (David A.White). Oscar re-enters with his girlfriend, Becky (Heather Dilly). They discuss the money, with Jonesy hiding in a broom closet and hearing all. Next come casino owner Randall (Darius Stone) and his accomplice, English (Richard Mazda), who actually have stolen the money. More conversation overheard -- and the games begin. These also involve Mr. Prescott (Stu Richel), the eccentric billionaire hotel owner, and his preppy son Jimmy (Jon Ecklund).

While the setup is pleasing, the execution lacks the hell-bent force that farce requires. Playwright Brooks is at fault in offering too many explanations along the way, including some action-stalling flashbacks. Director Sam Viverito allows the early pace to be much too leisurely; despite the hard-working cast, there is a greater need for speed. Dilly, Mazda, and Ecklund do best in establishing their characters amid the fray. With some judicious nipping and tucking, however, this promising attempt might yet be shaped into a farce just right for summer laughter.

Presented by SunnySpot Productions in association with Second Life Productions and Badlands Theatre Company

at the Clurman Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC.

Jan. 16-29. Mon. and Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.

(212) 279-4200.

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