‘Par­al­lel Lives’ makes an­gu­lar con­nec­tions

Hot but­tons get pressed in com­edy show

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - ON STAGE - By Rod Stafford Hag­wood

In a way, “Par­al­lel Lives” is a study of comedic ge­om­e­try.

Stay with me on this. The hu­mor in the col­lec­tion of10 skits be­ing staged by Think­ing Cap Theatre in Fort Laud­erdale comes at you from oblique an­gles. In its finest mo­ments, it is de­light­fully askew. And the two-char­ac­ter show fre­quently cen­ters it­self on per­pen­dic­u­lar per­sonas played by Elena Maria Gar­cia and Casey Dressler.

Writ­ten by Kathy Na­jimy (“Ho­cus Po­cus,” “Sis­ter Act”) and Mo Gaffney (“House of Lies,” “Ab­so­lutely Fab­u­lous”), “Par­al­lel Lives” was an off-Broad­way hit in the 1980s and ran in heavy ro­ta­tion on HBO and Com­edy Cen­tral in the 1990s.

Gen­der roles form the through line of the show, which opens with two an­gels dis­cussing the nuts and bolts of cre­at­ing mankind: Will white peo­ple feel a bit bland com­pared to the more col­or­ful races? Can the mir­a­cle of child­birth for women be bal­anced out by giv­ing men over­size egos?

If you go

“Par­al­lel Lives” is run­ning through July 3 at the Van­guard, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., in Fort Laud­erdale.

Show­times are 8 p.m. Thurs­days-Satur­days, 3 p.m. Satur­days and 5 p.m. Sun­days.

Tick­ets cost $35. To or­der, call 754-206-4568 or go to Van­guardArts.org.

From there be­gins a swiftly paced (90 min­utes with a 10-minute in­ter­mis­sion) tour of top­ics — re­li­gion, dat­ing, ho­mo­pho­bia, fem­i­nism, fash­ion, op­pres­sion — en­veloped by “Satur­day Night Live”-like sketches. In one of the more suc­cess­ful bits, two se­niors who, hav­ing signed up for a “womyn’s stud­ies” con­tin­u­ing-ed­u­ca­tion course, find them­selves way out of their com­fort zones in a neo­hip­pie, ve­gan restau­rant to see a per­for­mance-art piece ti­tled “Sis­ter Woman Sis­ter.” In an­other, two teens dis­cuss their boyfriends af­ter watch­ing “West Side Story” on TV and con­clude, in a light­ning-strike epiphany, that “love hurts.”

Each ac­tor gets a bravura turn alone: Dressler as an aunt re­lat­ing how her fa­vorite nephew came out to her, and Gar­cia in a mime act of a woman go­ing through the primp­ing con­tor­tions of get­ting groomed and dressed for the day.

It’s all very amus­ing, but I imag­ine it will be down­right hi­lar­i­ous once Dressler and Gar­cia burn off all the static elec­tric­ity that buzzes around their per­for­mances and plug into the san­guine na­ture that pow­ers “Par­al­lel Lives.”

They tend to hit it harder than they need to or should. This par­tic­u­lar kind of com­edy doesn’t re­ally need punch­ing up. They are both charis­matic and di­vert­ing tal­ents with vast ex­pe­ri­ence in off-kil­ter work with un­ex­pected plot points. I imag­ine the re­cal­cu­la­tion to a more re­laxed show is im­mi­nent.

“Par­al­lel Lives” is part of the Van­guard’s 2016 Com­edy Lineup.

The Van­guard Sanc­tu­ary for the Arts is a per­formin­garts space that opened last year in a former church that was con­structed in 1939.

NI­COLE STODARD/COUR­TESY

Elena Maria Gar­cia and Casey Dressler star in “Par­al­lel Lives,” run­ning through July 3 at the Van­guard in Fort Laud­erdale.

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