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Theater review: ‘Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs’ at the Steve Allen Theater

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Best known for playing eccentric computer genius Chloe O’Brian on the long-running suspense series “24,” Mary Lynn Rajskub started off her career doing one-woman shows before segueing into television sketch comedy, and beyond.

Rajskub returns to her roots in “Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs,” her solo show at the Steve Allen Theater. That cheerfully vulgar title sums up the overall tone, which is often breezily obscene.

The show, written by Rajskub with help from director/developer Amit Itelman, was inspired by Rajskub’s experiences with pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

There are belly laughs to be had, mostly deriving from Rajskub’s mind-blowing oddness. A taut, dynamic performer, Rajskub breaks into weird, herky-jerky dances at intervals – a clever reset indicating changes in subject and scene.

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Rajskub’s musings on motherhood are so surreally mean-spirited that they are often hilarious. Rajskub’s desperate attempt to persuade her husband to drop off their colicky baby boy at the nearest fire station is hilarious, as is a Zen-like exercise in which she visualizes various forms of infanticide.

Rajskub occasionally goes off-topic, lapsing into random chatter, as in a prolonged metaphysical rant touching on the relative value of a human baby and a doorknob. Another segment, in which Rajskub viciously excoriates a producer during a botched audition, seems purely dispensable filler, misplaced in this context.
Shock value aside, Rajskub’s strikingly unsentimental show concludes with a moment of sweet acceptance and sly joy – a surprisingly uplifting end to an offbeat evening. And a welcome hint that, after all, this would-be murderous mama is just kidding.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs,” Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Ends Oct. 30. www.steveallentheater.com. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.


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