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Review: 'Resignation Day' at Sacred Fools Theater

January 22, 2009 |  2:00 pm

'Resignation Day' Aug. 8, 1974, should be writer Terry's red-letter day. Tricky Dick is poised to make unsavory history, a ripe situation for any counterculture satirist.  Yet it's just another vexing distraction for Terry.

Of course, not every anarchistic author in America faces epic writer's block, a pubescent son who gropes anything that moves, nonstop telephone interruptions from the IRS, porn publishers and couples trying to return a toaster. That alleged electrician crawling through the window after tangling with Terry's pet sow? Don't ask.

Welcome to the gonzo spirit of the late, great Terry Southern, which shoots across "Resignation Day" at Sacred Fools Theater. Charles Pike's absurdist comedy posits the infamous scribe of "Candy" and "Easy Rider" in crisis on the day Richard Nixon resigns, and it revels in iconoclastic errata.

Pike clearly knows his subject. He doesn't so much riff on Southern's life and prose as roll its components up into a sardonic fantasia. In many ways, it's a representative Sacred Fools outing, and, barring some slack pacing, David LM McIntyre's ambitious staging explores the script in suitably unhinged ways.

The designs are witty, particularly Cricket S. Myers' referential sound, and the players are avid. Chairman Barnes pulls his ebullience inward as Terry, cracked yet courtly. His colleagues all go for it. Bonnie-Kathleen Discepolo's girlfriend Gail is archly straight-faced, Michael Rachlis' hormonal Bigboy aptly outré. Sean Sweeney gives his interloper a wild-eyed punch, while Joseph Beck and Tifanie McQueen inhale their various phone callers. In Act 2, when Tanner Thomason, Roy Allen and the scene-stealing Richard Horvitz show up as Terry's celebrated cronies, lunacy ensues.

In fact, that's problematic.  Act 1 almost amounts to one long, surreal exposition, its groundwork coming full circle without quite earning the final polemic. "Resignation Day" is weirdly worthy, but group brio only intermittently trumps the need for revisions.

-- David C. Nichols

"Resignation Day," Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends Feb. 21. Adult audiences. $30. (310) 281-8337. Running time:  2 hours, 10 minutes.

Photo: Chairman Barnes (seated) and Richard Sabine in "Resignation Day." Credit: Haven Hartman.