Entertainment » Theatre

Parallel Lives

by Dale Reynolds
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Aug 31, 2016
Alice Hunter and Crista Flanagan
Alice Hunter and Crista Flanagan  

When you take a show, "Parallel Lives," that is 30 years old, a satirical skit-hit in N.Y.C. and L.A. back then, published (Samuel French), and give it a new life, you should at the very least update the material. Which Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy, both very funny writers and actors, have not done.

With a new director, the estimable Jenny Sullivan, and two capable and new-to-the-material actresses, Crista Flanagan and Alice Hunter, what was funny then is funny now, especially the skits revolving around a country bar where a boor tries repeatedly to pick up on a local gal.

Another funny bit has two angels who help make decisions on humans: why only women will bear children, especially in pain, and how men who are denied the gift of birthing will get enormous egos and the glory of being really good at math. Two young girls compare what they know about the Catholic Church and its dogma ("Every time you lie, Jesus gets another thorn in his head"), and so forth.

But much of the material is simply too old, especially referencing old talk-shows as "Ricky" and other unfamiliar notations on the show's history. At the very least, the two actors here are gifted comedians and with Sullivan's help, kept the two-hour show (with an unneeded intermission that allowed a quarter of the house to leave) fairly quick, but with enough of the material no longer as relevant as it was three decades ago -- the eternal fight between the sexes just didn't have enough updated fun in it -- that kept the comedic quotient unfavorably low.

Flanagan and Hunter did the brave thing, however: never reflect on what isn't working; just keep plugging along, hoping for the best. They both would shine in newer material as their comic timing was excellent as, indeed, were their acting chops.

If you've never seen this material before, you might like it enough to justify the expense, but probably not.

"Parallel Lives" runs through Sept. 18 at Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank, CA. For information or tickets, call 818-955-8101 or visit http://www.falcontheatre.com

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