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at the Crossley Theatre

Terre Haute, Ind., 1981: Willum Cubbert (James Runcorn) is about to turn 34—thanks to Rick Steadman (Ronnie Steadman), who saved his life years earlier on a battlefield in "Viet Nam." Though the two have never met, they kept in touch by mail, and Steadman has an open invitation from Willum to visit.

Helping out for the birthday gathering is Willum's main squeeze, Tansy (Lori Rom Steadman), and his buddy, Axel (Scott Damian). The phone rings: Steadman is in Terre Haute and coming over for a surprise visit. Willum's curmudgeon boss, his boss' neurotic wife (Tim Farmer and Suzanne Friedline), and their spoiled-brat son (Cameron Covell on the night reviewed) also drop in. Steadman arrives—a real nerd with pocket-protector and pants pulled up somewhere around his armpits. Somehow, he takes over as activities director for the evening's fun and games.

Written a quarter-century ago, Larry Shue's play still keeps an audience laughing. This is not highbrow parlor comedy or very sophisticated clever stuff; it's just clean, laugh-out-loud humor: some corn, a touch of sitcom, but all funny. Director Henry Polic II understands this brand of comedy and lets it fly free. On his watch, nothing seems forced. His talents are matched by a fine, energetic cast with no weak links. Runcorn, Damian, and Lori Rom Steadman portray likeable, yuppie, angst-ridden 30-somethings; Farmer, Friedline, and Covell are the perfect dysfunctional family from hell; and Ronnie Steadman is a golly-gee hoot. Production values are all up to par. On the minus side, however, the script's second act becomes a bit drawn out, including the lackluster anticlimactic tag.

Presented by Actors Co-op at the Crossley Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. (Also Sat. 2:30 p.m. May 20 & 27.) Apr. 21-May 28. (323) 462-8460.

Reviewed by Dave DePino

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