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Theater review: 'Magic Bullet Theory' at Sacred Fools Theatre

March 29, 2012 |  4:04 pm

"The Magic Bullet Theory"
An intriguing notion shoots through the ricocheting subversive brio of "The Magic Bullet Theory." By training their thematic sights on a surprisingly credible conceit -- that John F. Kennedy's assassination was the unintended result of a bungled scare tactic -- playwrights Terry Tocantins and Alex Zola give this irreverent Sacred Fools presentation noteworthy substance.
 
Directed by JJ Mayes with larky invention, "Bullet" follows Charlie Harrelson (Tocantins, effectively restrained), the real-life convicted killer of Judge John H. Wood Jr., and father of actor Woody Harrelson.
 
Sandwiched between an incredulous Earl Warren (Morry Schorr) and the archetypal Texan (a rip-roaring Rick Steadman), who facilitated things before and after Nov. 22, 1963, Charlie carries the ironic tangent: he, Lee Harvey Oswald (Michael Holmes) and two CIA-recruited Yalies (Monica Greene and Pete Caslavka) were supposed to "miss the target." Oops.
 
What recommends "Bullet" is the garage-show confidence with which Mayes, choreographer Natasha Norman, the design team and a laudable ensemble attack the mayhem.

Ever-smiling JFK (Eric Curtis Johnson) and torch-singing Jackie (the redoubtable Vanessa Stewart) lead gonzo dance breaks. Mafia goombas Louie and Frank (Bryan Krasner and K.J. Middlebrooks, hilarious) witness the botched job in Mascagni-accompanied slow-mo.  Dorothy Kilgallen (Lisa Anne Nicolai) proves harder to dispatch than Rasputin; Arlen Specter (Victor Isaac) charts the title equation in a red-threaded absurdist snarl.
 
Things go sluggish by the two-thirds point, needing either an intermission or 15 fewer minutes of repeated shtick and false endings. And Charlie's back story with impregnated Marsha (Cj Merriman) misses the anarchistic mark, prosaic and gravely histrionic amid the satiric savagery that otherwise denotes "Bullet" as a representative company melee.

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-- David C. Nichols
 
"The Magic Bullet Theory," Sacred Fools Theatre, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends April 28. $20. (310) 281-8337 or www.sacredfools.org. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
 
 Photo: The cast of "The Magic Bullet Theory." Credit: Amani/Wood Photograph

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