Sleeping Ugly

No one could accuse veteran screenwriter-playwright Arnold Schulman (Goodbye Columbus, Funny Lady, And the Band Played On) of languishing in one genre. So it's fitting that this late-career play is a dramaturgic stew — part kabuki/commedia and part Neil Simon sitcom, seasoned with a dash of Christopher Durang absurdism. This insane hodgepodge proves engaging, though it lags slightly in the home stretch. Why exactly has the meet-cute encounter between lonely bachelor Stanley (Chuck Raucci) and his disarming but klutzy neighbor, Judy (Jaimi Paige), failed to spark a lasting romantic bond? Is dentist Stanley gay, commitment-phobic or simply an uptight loser? The surprising answer leads to uproarious complications. Raucci, a splendid farceur, has us rooting for this schmuck, while the hilarious and captivating Paige seems right at home as a rom-com ingénue — vintage Goldie Hawn. Chris DeCarlo's imaginative staging boasts a multimedia flair and is graced with a crackerjack ensemble serving as bit characters, walls, furniture and props, comprising an often silent but ever-expressive Greek chorus. The Attic Room's clever, cartoon-style projections enhance the merriment. Further salutes are due to Serena Dolinsky's movement direction, James Cooper's lighting and set, Ashley Hayes' costumes, Timothy Chadwick's graphic design and Linn Yamaha Hirschman's sound effects. Santa Monica Playhouse, The Other Space, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through June 17. (310) 394-9779, ext. 1, santamonicaplayhouse.com.
Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: April 15. Continues through June 17, 2012

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Santa Monica Playhouse

1211 Fourth St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

310-394-9779

www.santamonicaplayhouse.com


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