June 4, 2004





Evil is afoot at 'Midnight'


"I self-destruct on explanation" is the unanswerable disclaimer of two characters in Kirk Wood Bromley's dizzyingly word-crammed crackpot cartoon "Midnight Brainwash Revival." This might be Bromley's defense, too, since his effusively kooky writing defies close scrutiny, even as his high-wire wordplay rewards amused attention. Indeed, with a sensational cast under director Alexander Yannis Stephanos' expert guidance, "Midnight" see-saws with near-perfect balance between gleeful scatology and tongue-twisting linguistic trickery--something like an episode of "South Park" as written by Mac Wellman.


The sleepy desert town of Moab, Utah--which in reality as in the play sits near megatons of buried nuclear waste--is under threat from an evil developer with a pesky traveling tumor and, in Christopher Paul Hart's droll performance, a ticklish verbal dexterity.


An alliance with Moab's right-wing mayor (Dan Etheridge) stumbles when a hippie huckster (Joe Jordan) slips the mayor a funny cigar. And the plot to buy the land from its city-fied heir (Eric Giancoli) snags on the resistance of his conscientious sister (Jacy Gross) and the pretty persuasion of a local cowboy (Liesel Kopp).


Along the way we meet a pair of hapless mercenaries (Paul Plunkett, Mark McClain Wilson), a confused cross-dresser (Ted DeVirgilis), a trio of airheaded tourists (Gary Ballard, M.E. Dunn, Annie Abrams), a strident city broad (Diana Jellinek), a ditzy flunkie (Philip Wofford), a soft-hearted cop (Adam Harrington) and a shape-shifting trickster (Kyle Ingleman).


Scurrying tirelessly around Dunn's Wile E. Coyote set, this motley bunch nails Bromley's animated metier with utter conviction, if not explication.

--Rob Kendt


"Midnight Brainwash Revival," Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. $15. (310) 281-8337. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.