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Lapin Lapin

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Lapin Lapin, Bailiwick Repertory.

Loony and cartoonish, frantic and farcical, bitterly comic and bitingly satiric, Coline Serreau's comedy--about a crazed, dysfunctional lower-class family eking out a living in economically depressed France--is a wild, excessive hybrid, insanely fast paced and full of neck-breaking mood swings.

Serreau's farcical premise is that, one by one, the adult children of Mr. and Mrs. Lapin return to their tiny, warrenlike home, until they're literally falling over each other. But no sooner does she set up the premise than Serreau switches genres, piling on science fiction (the preadolescent title character, little Lapin Lapin, may or may not be an alien), dystopic political satire (the government is cheerfully totalitarian, the Lapin brothers are terrorists), and those kinda funny, kinda awful Jerry Lewis-Frank Tashlin comedies that only the French could love.

Sounds like a mess, I know. But somehow it's a glorious mess, thanks in part to Serreau's well-crafted script (translated by Brit Barbara Wright and "Americanized" by Cecilie D. Keenan) and in part to Kim Rubinstein's cast and direction. (Martie Sanders deserves special note for her wonderful performance as Lapin Lapin, the sulky, eccentric Calvin-like little boy with the orange red Don King hairdo and the penchant for talking to aliens in the toilet bowl.) No matter how insane things become onstage, Rubinstein et al never forget the two dicta of farce: less is more, and acting silly never gets you anywhere.

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