Few literary figures seem as blatantly ripe for satire as the gumshoe detective. Playwright Bill Robens ably answers the call, with an entertaining spoof about an obtuse private dick named Charlie Nichols (Dean Lemont) and his obsession for a witless scarlet-clad siren named Mona (Kirsten Vangsness). Called in to forestall the murder of a wealthy dowager, Lady Clairmont (the comically skillful Kathleen Mary Carthy), hes soon embroiled with the usual parade of tough-guy gangsters, dumb cops and seductive debutantes. Obstacles confront Charlie everywhere his client soon ends up dead but none prove as treacherous as his buxom, doe-eyed lady love, whose predilection for homicide he myopically ignores. Savvily staged by director Kiff Scholl (with fight choreography by Caleb Terray and videography by Darrett Sanders), the script successfully parodies the genres multiple clichés and evocative parlance, even as it lacks the razor-sharp edge of a top-notch farce. (The show goes on a bit too long.) Still the adroit supporting ensemble makes the most of the pieces convoluted subplots among them Nicholas S. Williams as Lady Clairmonts effete son Clive, Phinneas Kiyomura as an eyewitness to her murder and Ezra Buzzington as her suspiciously implicated butler. As the hero, Lemont demonstrates facileness. With her pouty lips and batting eyelids, Vangsness outrageous Mona becomes the shows star. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through Aug 1. (323) 856-8611.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: June 26. Continues through Aug. 30, 2009