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Men. You can't live with 'em; you can't keep 'em in a meat locker. Or can you? Such is the delightfully evil dilemma facing three women who are cleaning up after a dinner party—and dishing on their husbands—in Michelle Lowe's dark domestic comedy. Desperate housewives, indeed. The timing is perfect for this short bittersweet play about women finding just the right recipe for happiness to be making the regional theatre rounds. And, in a scrappy, benefit production by an all-women's theatre company, The Smell of the Kill is palpable.

The play is neat and tidy and Martha Stewart–clever. Under Nikki Braendlin's snappy direction, a rotating cast plays the three little wifeys who get caught up in the kitchen quandary while their husbands cavort with frozen flesh downstairs. (The offstage spouses—obnoxiously effective voices—are uncredited.) In the performance reviewed, Renee DeBovoise was sharp as a Ginzu as the ballsy Nicky, a new mother who's hosting the evening's soiree while trying to keep a lid on her all-consuming hunter husband's indictment for financial, uh, misappropriations. A wide-eyed Karleigh Behbahani was very funny as the not-so-innocent Molly, a babe with an adoring hubby who's on the verge of loving her to death. As the picture-perfect, judgmental Debra—whose real estate–tycoon husband certainly has a problem with personal property lines when it comes to other women—an uneven Christiane Georgi had moments but didn't quite carry her weight onstage.

The energy and goodwill of this focused, all-volunteer company goes a long way toward making up for the decidedly low-rent production values and cheesy tech choices. A word to designers who want to get involved with a bunch of seemingly worthy women: Hear Me Roar Productions needs you—desperately.

"The Smell of the Kill," presented by Hear Me Roar Productions at the Working Stage Theatre, 1516 N. Gardner Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Apr. 29-May 22. $10. (323) 252-1961.

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