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New York Theater


Brian Parks, the talented author of Goner, is also artistic director of the group Word Monger. The moniker is particularly apt for Parks the playwright, who, in this one-hour lunatic comedy, shoots words as if from a machine gun. While his principal targets include the medical establishment, a certain president, the FBI, and ethnic minorities, Parks fires at anything in sight. Truly witty one-liners tumble over sick jokes that stumble over hoary vaudeville routines. His aim is lethal but the approach is decidedly scattershot. While this indiscriminate mix of the good, the bad, and the banal blunts the play's anarchic edge, there's still plenty of fun here to give both delight and offense.

In what is basically a series of blackout sketches, Parks introduces his manic hospital staff: Chief surgeon Dr. Warren Wyandotte (David Calvitto) is just plain loopy; his daughter Wixom (Jona Tuck) is currently in the fecal samples department but dreams of making documentaries about African Americans; Dr. Hoyt Schermerhorn (Jody Lambert) is the young brain surgeon who falls for Wixom; and Dr. Ecorse Southgate (Matt Oberg) is obsessed with his invented doll, Chemotherapy Barbie -- yes, her hair falls out. When President Waterford Novi (Bill Coelius) is shot in the head, he is brought to this hapless hospital accompanied by two FBI goons, Hazel Park (Leslie Farrell) and Melvin Dale (Patrick Frederic). This pair is suspicious of everything, including "the playful love of ideas."

In Parks' overstuffed script, playful ideas abound and, under John Clancy's spirited direction, the articulate cast is hell-bent on delivering chaos -- and as many laughs as possible. While good taste is not even an option here, Parks' lapses into scatology and oozing body parts demonstrate a sophomoric tendency that diminishes his surprisingly literate wit. And it's disappointing that, having created these gleefully frenzied strands, he is not able to weave them into a stronger construction. Still, an original comic talent is on display here. The possibility of his becoming the American Joe Orton is something -- like Godot -- we will just have to wait for.

Presented by Word Monger Productions

at the Kraine Theater, 85 E. Fourth St., NYC.

Jan. 7-28. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.

(212) 868-4444.

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