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Stage Raw: Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas

Stage Raw: Matthew Modine Saves the Alpacas

Photo by Michael Lamont

Oh, dear. Blair Singer's comedy about a washed-out former celeb, Matthew Modine (played by Matthew Modine, somewhere between appealing and appalling) trying to crawl his way back onto the A-list by enlisting himself in a hip charity with the help of jaded publicist Whimberly North (Peri Gilpin) is not bad for a comedy  dreamed up, as Neil Simon would say, somewhere on the 23rd floor. So down they go to the Equadorian Andes in all their Hollywood ignorance and arrogance to save a dying indigenous tribe and their alpacas, and down we go with them, wondering how could a movie-biz satire --  directed by John Lando in a deliberately goofball style somewhere between Benny Hill and Saturday Night Live - go so astray. There's such talent on this stage, from the inimitable Mark Fite of the perverse clown-show Clowntown City Limits, to French Stewart - a comedian who can milk a deadpan stare literally without blinking an eye - the mystery of what makes a comedy work seems almost terrifying. There are moments of lowbrow comedy that suggest the promise of what this could be. As is, Singer's lackadaisical comedic logic is held together with the very frayed duct tape of charm and silliness, so that the satire plays itself out as a string of jokes that skewer the obvious. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood;  Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; also Sat., 3 p.m. and Sun., 2 p.m.; through Oct. 18. (800) 745-3000. (Steven Leigh Morris) See Theater feature on Thursday.

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