With its amiably hammy seven-person ensemble of mostly veteran character actors who prance around caparisoned in codpieces with Slinkys attached, this high-spirited rendition of the classic Greek comedy proves that Aristophanes and shtick go together like, well, Aristophanes and shtick. Adaptor-director Meryl Friedmans earlier staging of this production was created to commemorate the opening of the new Getty Villa auditorium. It ran four performances there but has now been moved to this new, much smaller venue on La Brea Avenue, with all its brisk silliness intact. Aristophanes play is a barbed satire of the 5th century BC Athenian tradition of paying retirees for serving on a jury. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising that Friedmans take on the material drifts from the political elements, opting instead to meander into delightfully dippy gags and cheerful musical numbers. While digressive, these theatrical sojourns turn out to be oddly faithful to the tone and mood of the original comedy. There are fart jokes, drunken revelry and, for the finale, theres a trial in which an old man (Peter Van Norden) adjudicates a case involving a dog (Robert Alan Beuth, in wacky dog-drag). As the elderly Athenian fool, Van Norden possesses a Zero Mostellike comic gravitas, which he uses to comedic advantage in his perfectly timed, bug-eyed, joyously leering turn. Albert Meijer, as the old mans uptight and pompous son, mugs off him brilliantly. David Os orchestration of Friedmans jitterbuglike musical numbers is delightful and his sound effects, as though from a radio play, mesh perfectly with the sweet and joyful testament to Classical Greek geek chic. The Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through July 26. (800) 838-3006.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: June 20. Continues through July 26, 2009