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Mohansen High School I: Homecoming

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MOHANSEN HIGH SCHOOL I: HOMECOMING, Fling, at Playground Theater. Anything goes in the Fling's acid send-up of teen movies, as pimply geeks, meathead jocks, and sociopathic burnouts grapple for control of a suburban high school. Mohansen High School I: Homecoming (a sequel in late July centers on the school's cheerleading tryouts) nails all the hallmarks of Reagan-era pop cinema: a manic training montage is set to the theme from Rocky, and nods to other films abound. If this hour-long show fails to offer an authentic appreciation of the terrors of high school, at least it's faithful to the Hollywood version.

Some of the best gags rely on props: an exchange student models his braided hairstyle after elfin warrior Legolas in The Lord of the Rings. But though the four cast members pull off dozens of costume changes without a hitch, the show falls short of the caffeine jolt delivered by such quick-change pieces as The Mystery of Irma Vep. Still, the troupe channels its improv roots to great effect with a script that's much smarter than it lets on. While playing androgyny, closeted homosexuality, and raging hormones for nervous laughs, the Fling also unveils an odd connection between the feuding cliques. And miraculously, the show never chokes on its own irony: though the threat is omnipresent, the cast's rich character work keeps reeling you back in.

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