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Brays Get in the Way in ‘Animal Farm’

You never know when all those pretend-you’re-an-animal exercises in acting class are going to come in handy. Case in point: Company of Angels’ original adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which boasts a barnyard bevy of bestial roles to put the 14-member ensemble through their paces.

Director Ed Trotta’s script is a careful, scrupulously faithful rendition of the classic Orwellian parable about the corruption of Russian socialist ideals under Stalin--here represented as a dictatorial pig (John Marzilli) who keeps distorting the principles of the animal revolt that drove the humans from their farm.

The more prominent oppressed critters include Charley Rossman’s poignant workhorse, Jennifer Barrick’s vain and prancing pony, Joe Medalis’ cynical donkey, Paula LeGault’s hapless hound and Alison Lester’s long-suffering cow. Ed Asner’s gravelly, ironic narration (on tape) is also a plus.

Nevertheless, there’s something silly about the spectacle of live actors bleating, barking, whinnying and grunting their way around the stage that the piece never completely dispels, for all its serious intentions. Subtly suggestive characterizations and more creative costuming would have proven a more fruitful representational approach.

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* “Animal Farm,” Company of Angels, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Ends July 27. $15. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.


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