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The Crumple Zone

Reviewed by David Sheward

Buddy Thomas's "The Crumple Zone" is a typical example of the latest theatrical sub-genre: the gay comedy. Examples range from worthy, thought provoking works like "Love! Valour! Compassion!" to bits of fluff like "Party." "Crumple" has all the necessary ingredients and provides an entertaining, if not nourishing, evening.

All you need for this type of show is one extreme drama queen given to witty repartee loaded with obscure cultural references, at least one muscular hunk ready to take his shirt off at the slightest pretext, romantic complications, and maybe some lip-synching. The play has all of the above and, fortunately for Thomas, the first required role is played by Mario Cantone, whose credits range from "The Tempest" and "The Taming of the Shrew" to stand-up comedy specials. All of that experience comes in handy as Cantone tears down the house in this hilarious performance.

Whether he's dissing a Christmas special, bemoaning his single status, or demanding his roommate make an excuse for him to skip work so he can audition for the umpteenth road company of "Anything Goes," Cantone plays it to the hilt, but never over the top. His character Terry is always believable, even when he drops the bitchiness and delivers a strained monologue which explains the title.

Joshua Bíton, Gerald Downey, and Paul Pecorino play the three sides of the triangle from which Terry is excluded. They all have individual moments to shine. Steve Mateo is the obligatory muscleman called upon to show some skin. He manages to get some laughs by having fun with his macho image and mocking his character's limitless vanity.

Jason Moore's staging lets Cantone take center stage, and makes sure the segments when he is absent move along as snappily as possible. Dawn Robyn Petrlik created the attractive Staten Island apartment setting.

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