Perversity Rocks, Stitches Tanks

I wasn't at the meeting, so I don't know who decided to pair these strikingly dissimilar one-acts on the same bill. Note to oversight committee: some comedies don't really mix.

We start with David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago, a jump-cut-style musing on love and sexual politics filled with coarse-yet-crisp dialogue and clever, offbeat moments. Director Amanda DeMaio updates the action, which follows the arc of a modern relationship, from its original 1970s setting to the 1980s; the change neither helps nor hurts the play. It's still harsh, funny and somewhat cynical, like a gentler Your Friends and Neighbors peppered with '80s pop music hits during the segues. (Which, incidentally, upstaged some of the action—it's hard to connect with a slow moment when you're busy rocking out to the Violent Femmes.) Gavin Carlton as a misogynistic macho man and Mo Arii as a frigid schoolteacher who regards the male species as one rung above protozoa shine in their respective roles.

Contrast this with Stitches, a medical slapstick by local playwright Thomas Corsaut. Presumably an attempt to infuse ER with Marx Brothers absurdity, the play suffers from poorly contrived parodies, silly characters (given laugh lines that sound like they were culled from Dixie cups) and unfunny shtick. The show runs longer than Marcus Welby has been in syndication. Long before the 50th bedpan joke, this boorish piece of comedic malpractice should have been wheeled out on a stretcher.

Sexual Perversity in Chicagoand Stitches at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Ste. 4, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Through Oct. 7. $14.

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