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Two Performance Pieces Revived at Highways

Tom Keegan and Davidson Lloyd first sprang their eccentric view of life on Los Angeles during the 1987 Fringe Festival with “Crawling Off Broadway” and “Crossing State Lines,” the two performance pieces they’re reviving on Sunday evenings at Highways.

Since then, they’ve honed the pieces to a fine luster.

“Crawling” describes their struggles as actors and their romantic meeting at Martha’s Vineyard. Their personal relationship is gently and honestly framed in the piece, colored by some clever vaudeville shtick and humor.

In “Crossing,” which charts their first automobile trip to Los Angeles, the humor is paramount, from their entrance into the maze-like highway system, their first night in a motel (Keegan messes up the other bed so they won’t know), to their getting better acquainted through their traumas in mountain and desert. Funny, yes, and much of it touching.

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Keegan is particularly watchable as the comic of the duo. Simply staring out of their car window at the vast stretch of the central plains gets him one of the biggest laughs of the evening.

It’s a charmer, and for a wider audience than might be imagined.

At 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Sundays, 8:30 p.m.; ends May 20. $10; (213) 453-1755.

Clashing Agendas in Spoof of Hollywood

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The mentality of the hordes trying to break into the media world is the joke at the center of Michel Schtakleff and Roger Templeton’s “J-O-B the Movie” at the Flight Theatre. The question is, can that mentality be considered remotely amusing?

Four frenetic souls are in search of a “project” to “develop” as they cartwheel around a studio loft in downtown Los Angeles.

Byron wants to re-create a moment in political history, as a film, of course, but maybe onstage in a small theater to work out the wrinkles. Isabella, Shelley and Mack do all they can to thwart him. They have their own agendas.

It’s a setup for chaos in the mindless underground that presumes to artistic fulfillment.

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The idea almost works under Schtakleff’s direction, which is as frenetic as his characters. But it loses ground as a play because of the very types it lampoons. Their dialogue is pretentious, inane, desperately juvenile and naive, and frighteningly prevalent in the Hollywood of the early ‘90s.

Clive Coogan stands out with his expert comic timing and a sincerity which gives the impression that his character is the only one who might produce something worthwhile. Brian Tucker as Byron, Renee Campbell as Isabella and Ivette Soler as Mack are overdone and self-conscious.

The world of “J-O-B” deserves being laughed at, but the humor and characterizations need more richness and insight to get the most out of the authors’ intent.

At 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; this Friday through Sunday, 8 p.m. $10; (213) 464-2124.

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‘Adimere Meus Uxor’ Has Its Moments

The brightness of the creators of the late-night show at the Angels’ Theatre is earmarked by the title “Adimere Meus Uxor, Sis!”

It’s a veiled bow to Henny Youngman (translation: “Take my wife-- please !”) and that alone sets the group apart from run-of-the-mill late-nighters. These folks think , therefore they are funny.

Well, some of the time.

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The highlights of the hourlong show almost excuse the moments that don’t work. Scott Hartman, Steve Mazur and Mark Steen are credited as writers, Mazur with the buoyant direction.

A sketch about a blind date between a yuppie and a punker is as dull as it would be in reality, and others--"Love Police” in a safe-sex society, a sleazy Latin lambada instructor, and a woman waging war on plant-crazy cats--are pointless.

But “Mime Prison,” in which the ultimate punishment is silence, is clever and very, very funny, as is a hysterical takeoff on a businessman’s tragic addiction to a local easy-listening radio station.

The best moment is Hartman’s “Judd Nelson Reads.” With glasses and a delivery to match his subject, he becomes Nelson, reading with all seriousness and sincerity Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks.” He’s pointedly attracted to the piece because the author not only wrote the text, but did the illustrations.

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John Dragon, Steen, Ronna Leeds, Scott Stevens and Corky Ormine complete the cast, and they’re a talented and amusing bunch. They would be more so if they would weed out the more self-conscious material.

Besides the main cast, a dandy little chorus also pops in periodically. In the finale, the second-funniest bit of the evening, cast and chorus join for a choral chuckle called, with tongue in cheek, “Young and In Love.”

At 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 p.m.; ends May 26. $7; (213) 938-8048.

‘Secret Desires’ Sputters at Highways

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Keegan and Lloyd (see review above) are also debuting their new performance piece “Secret Desires” at Highways three nights a week, but it has a way to go to catch up with their Sunday night show.

There are few “desires” in evidence.

The bits and pieces that make up “Secret Desires"--a man and his senile father, lovers quarreling, a Jewish housewife consumed with greed, etc.--show the duo’s versatility, but their sum has the disadvantage of looking like that vast expanse of performance art that works only for dedicated aficionados. Images are begun that are not consummated, movement is thrown in without any textual logic, and the title is a perfect example of “bait and switch.”

Maybe when they hone it to the finish of their earlier pieces it might work, but it’s doubtful. Keegan and Lloyd are better than this.

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At 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Thursdays through Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; ends May 19. $10; (213) 453-1755

Waiting for the Big Break in ‘Actors’

Have you ever wondered what actor-waiters talk about when the customers are gone and they’re counting their tips? Don’t.

The actors at this “bustling Hollywood bistro,” in “Actors and Other Animals” at the Tamarind Theater, are just like all the others. Vance is all macho bluff and thinks he should have the roles that went to Mel Gibson et al.; Regina is theater-trained but bemoans the fact that things are rough because she’s black; Autumn won’t take her blouse off in front of a camera because she promised her folks; Chester doesn’t think being gay should have anything to do with whether Hollywood wants him; bartender Phil says in 20 years none of his waiters has made it.

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That’s up to the first intermission.

In the 20-minute second act, Phil has gotten a series and the cover of US magazine. Vance is now headwaiter, Autumn takes it all off for the Playboy Channel, Regina is teaching acting and Chester is off to do “Oklahoma!” on a cruise ship. Phil says success isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Curtain.

Terence M. O’Keefe co-wrote the script and directs as though it were really after-hours at a Hollywood bistro. Brent Huff co-wrote the script and plays Vance. The cast does just fine playing what appears to be themselves.

At 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m.; ends May 17. $12; (213) 466-1767 .

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