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Vladivostok Blues

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Vladivostok Blues, Tempus Fugit Productions, Strawdog Theatre Company. More folly than farce, Jocelyn A. Beard's new play about international relationships features half-baked ideas and unlikely situations scripted with little imagination and even less humor. Russian kidnappers' plans are foiled when their abduction elicits golden PR for their victim, Mexico's most famous female soap star. Both sides use the headline-grabbing escapade for unanticipated gains, the details of which are revealed in the play's final, listless moments, which don't so much conclude the show as simply bring it to a halt. Is this a comedy about the cult of celebrity, a political tirade about the state of affairs in eastern Europe, or an homage to the Spanish telenovela? It's hard to say, since Beard throws all this and more into her kettle of concepts.

And the play traffics in the kind of stereotypes that teeter precariously on the edge of offense. The star's husband is a gold-chain-wearing macho man with a pet Chihuahua, and her fussy, sibilant gay agent is so frail he can barely hold a gun--we haven't seen a flamer this feeble since Franklin Pangborn or a Mexican this overblown since Speedy Gonzalez. As laxly directed by Trevor Parker, the cast plays at a routine level, although Christopher Goodman as the gay agent gives his lines a catty charm.

--Erik Piepenburg

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