Los Angeles, 1947, and the last thing you want to be is communist or homosexual. And for the citys lesbian community, persecution looms with the hushed-up murder of a 70-year-old millionairess who had kept the LAPD in her purse. Such is the setting for writer-director-designer Susan Simpsons noir serial puppet show. Reluctantly, gray-haired ex-beat cop Loretta Salt half wood, half clay, all tough broad investigates, her face etched by wrinkles and her taciturn nature balanced by a puppeteer who clues us in that when Loretta rubs her neck, shes thinking about her dad. Simpsons set is the size of a car windshield, and the episodes unfold in half increments (Chapter 1.5 debuts March 21). But this tone-perfect first installment hooks our attention with a killer mystery, moody narration and fascinating historicity that occasionally tips into whimsy for example, when Salt and the victims girlfriend take the Red Car past the old Lincoln Heights bird farm, an ostrich is wheeled across the stage. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Starts: March 6. Continues through March 22, 2008
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