More Bitter Than Sweet

Getting it up for Swifty can be hard

Swifty falters on theme. The thread between the stories never really amounts to more than a thread. We're never given a firm read on just who Lazar is, what made him such a great agent, and what really drove his apparently insatiable thirst for high-powered friends and clients. We don't know how his clients truly felt about Lazar and whether Lazar was haunted by what seems like a fairly obvious question: Who are you if your one talent in life is getting work for people with real talent? We see that Lazar had a streak of intrepid bravery-and foolishness-that prompted him to stand up to Mafia hoods and high-powered Hollywood producers like Jon Peters (characters who probably aren't all that different in the wash). But we don't understand how Lazar could shrink before Sinatra's goons.

Hart's point is an elusive one. Is it merely to inform us that the man lived? To rehabilitate his image? To show that the old way of doing business in Hollywood was far more human than the cutthroat way of today-or that it was worse? What's clear is that the enduring impression of Swifty's Swifty is less that of a real man and more of a charming Groucho Marx-like old coot, still able to get it up when he was pushing 90. All in all, that's not a bad inscription for a venal man's tombstone or as the premise of a made-for-TV movie, but it's a bit lightweight for the stage.

Swifty at the Grove Theater Center, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 741-9555. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. Through April 25. $18.50-$22.50.

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