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Theater review: 'The Vault: Bankrupt' at Los Angeles Theatre Center

April 5, 2012 |  3:50 pm

“The Vault: Bankrupt”
“The Vault: Bankrupt,” now being presented by the Latino Theater Company at Los Angeles Theatre Center, is the latest offering from the Vault Ensemble, a cheeky multi-ethnic group that began performing in 2010 in conjunction with downtown's Art Walk. 

Developed through improv sessions by the entire company, “Bankrupt” is a light-hearted parody of the recent financial meltdown that centers around an idealistic middle-school teacher who ventures into the fictional Dream America Bank to secure a loan.

But in this particular bank, all employees are white-faced, hilariously hissing vampires in search of new prey.  When the Teacher, a Candide-like naif, insists on a closer inspection of the bank and its reserves, he is launched on a surreal adventure that is ultimately corrupting, transforming him from nice guy to opportunistic bloodsucker.

Directed by ensemble members Aaron Garcia and Fidel Gomez, the show is fueled by a tonic mixture of youthful ebullience and pure cheekiness.  However, the wildly careening plot, which takes the hero to outer space and back again with many outrageous segues in between, too often veers away from comprehensibility.

Yet although the message is somewhat murky, the show still works as pure entertainment of a particularly giddy stripe.  Gomez plays to the Lugosi stereotype, hilariously, as a vampiric bank president, while Sam Golzari is effectively gullible as the ill-fated hero. The entire cast, which includes  Brenda Banda, Stephen Buchanan, Esperanza America Ibarra, Theodore Lange IV and Vicki Syal,  is comically proficient and appealing.  Jasmine Orpilla, who also appears in various video sequences, did the spooky original score for this refreshingly offbeat evening.


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-- F. Kathleen Foley

“The Vault: Bankrupt,” Los Angeles Theatre Center, Theatre 4, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles.  9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Ends April 21. $20. (866) 811-4111.  Running time:  1 hour, 15 minutes.

Photo: Fidel Gomez, Sam Golzari. Credit: Koury Angelo.