Festival '90 : STAGE REVIEWS : OPEN FESTIVAL : Characters Half-Baked in Gordon's 'New York'

Sheila Gordon has an interesting gimmick tying together her one-woman gallery of characters in "New York: Sex, Killing and the Shopping" in a tiny space called Ravello's. It seems that the arrival in New York of a Russian-Jewish "madcap" talk-show hostess, who explores "sexual perestroika, " touches the lives of seven New Yorkers.

But the hostess is the least interesting of Gordon's group. Oddly enough, the two men in her collection of oddballs hit closest to the truth, both as satire and as honest theater. The first is disjointed junkie Rich who, on the lookout for drugs in the East Village, commits murder. The second is a hilarious street hustler who flogs his "foolproof lucky number" system onto passersby in the manner of television's become-a-millionaire gurus. They're clever inventions.

Under Jonathan Schmock's direction, Gordon is a talented and winning character actress who knows the angles and curves of her subjects, but her writing rarely rises above surface conventions. Most of her characters are stereotypes who look like outtakes from "Saturday Night Live" and make this hour a long sit.

At 730 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, Thursday through Sunday, 10 p.m.; ends Sept. 16. $10; (213) 393-1588.

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