Writer Mary Ruth Clarke and writer-director-actor-producer Greg Glienna tell the dizzy tale of an inept community theater. The company’s attempting to produce a melodrama about an all-American family held hostage on Christmas Eve by escaped convicts (Jeffrey Markle and Glienna), but they’re in the middle of an avian flu epidemic, which has felled most of the cast, so actors are forced to play multiple roles; vital props go missing, blackouts fail to come, onstage doors refuse to open, sound cues are scrambled or missing, and someone unwisely uses a bottle of real booze for a prop, with predictable results. The flu-ridden ingénue (Stephanie Manglaras) throws up in the middle of her love scene, and Glienna’s novice crook is a prototypical wooden actor who can’t move and talk at the same time. As police detective Beck, Eric Porzadek gets beaned by a falling lighting instrument and wanders about in a daze, convinced he’s playing Stanley Kowalski. Meanwhile, the fatalistic stage manager (Mandi Smith) tries vainly to cope. There’s plenty of hilarious stuff here and some engaging performances (including Brandon Alexander as an addled high school athlete), but the piece desperately needs sharper editing, pruning and timing.

Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Starts: Aug. 8. Continues through Sept. 14, 2008

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