Scaredycats

As the Neighborhood Watch group in Cheryl Bascom’s new farce is arriving at the home of the Pudneys (Julian Berlin and Dan Wingard) — “20 miles from Rosemead” — we see how the local police rep, Officer Melton (Bradley Snedeker), can’t keep his paws off Mr. Pudney’s blonde vixen wife or, later in the play, the babysitter (Lauren Waisbren) for the stuck-up Gleasons (Derek Long and Meeghan Holaway). The neighborhood is a cauldron of infidelity, bigotry, petty jealousy and paranoia. A gunshot, or what sounds like a gunshot, is reason enough for the group to seize a young Latino (Patrick Gomez) whose father owns a pool-cleaning company, and who was caught in the yard looking for his cell phone. Bascom’s satire of fearing fear itself might stand a chance in a production that’s not so over the top. The glaring mockery in Doug Clayton’s staging (Mrs. Pudney opens the play striding across her own living room, weapons in hand) reduces to mere frivolity what borders on an American comi-tragedy: that we’ll never be secure by being so insecure. Bascom must take some responsibility for underscoring the obvious: One neighbor greets a very swishy couple (Christian Malmin and Josh T. Ryan) with the salutation, “Hi gays, I mean guys.”) On the matinee I attended, somebody slammed the door and an entire shelf, with its contents, came crashing down, flummoxing the actors. It was a metaphor for the production’s hyperkinetic energy defying a higher purpose, or any purpose at all. The show features some strong comedic talent that deserves better — Ben Brannon and Heather Corwin as a neocon neighbor and his horrible pregnant wife; Long’s sneering lech, Pat Gleason, and Waisbren’s opportunistic babysitter with a penchant for playing dumber than she is.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Aug. 9. Continues through Sept. 28, 2008


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