Writers David Crane and Larry Coen's skewering of the movie business isn't remarkably witty or original, but done well it still can yield multiple laughs. In that respect, director Joe Ochman's staging scores a respectable B. Much of the humor coalesces around the endearing, flawlessly calibrated performance of Dagney Kerr. She plays Louise, a production assistant on a film shoot in which plot strands of Exodus, Cleopatra
and Julius Caesar
, among others, are stirred together into one giant, illogical stew. Among the 3,400 extras Louise oversees are brothers Benny (Michael Miranda) and Phil (Anthony Marquez), both of whom soon succumb to her charms. Eventually, following a fateful accident involving the "burning bush," Phil becomes the movie's director and Benny and Louise become the stars. While some performances could be crisper, Kerr's nearly continuous onstage presence serves up a ready antidote each time the humor begins to lag. Marina Palmier is consistently entertaining as a serpentine "Queen of the Nile" and in other assorted roles, while Tina Zarro's costumes add edge to the farce. The tiny venue seems poorly suited for staging an epic, but to their credit, Ochman and company ably circumnavigate the limitations. Neo Ensemble Theatre at the Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun, 2 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (323) 364-2670, neoensembletheatre.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 24, 8 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 9, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 16, 8 p.m. Starts: Aug. 17. Continues through Sept. 16, 2012