N.Y. Times

New York Times, Friday, August 7, 1998

August 7, 1998


'Larry and the Werewolf': Full Moon? The Lakeview Has an Unexpected Vacancy


What Johnny Weissmuller did with a jungle yodel, Erin Quinn Purcell may be poised to accomplish with The Scream.

Richard Fahey/Adobe Theater Company
Stacey Leigh Ivey and Jim McCauley in the Adobe Theater production of "Larry and the Werewolf."
First employed to hilarious effect for the Adobe Theater Company's "Duet! A Romantic Fable," Ms. Purcell's perfect B-movie shriek is again shown to be a valuable Adobe asset, in "Larry and the Werewolf," a deliriously sophomoric noir-and-monster movie spoof and an ideal piece of anarchic summer escapism at the Flea Theater in Tribeca.

The serialized detective story, playing in installments on Saturday nights this month, is a series of blissfully unsuspenseful interludes rife with bad accents, cheap lighting effects and the requisite supply of sidelong glances, the portentous sort that implicate every character, even the dead ones.

Blood splatters, bodies fall, the platinum blond Ms. Purcell lets loose with her patented talent for high-pitched horror. The author, Jeff Goode, and a rotating pool of directors seem to understand their audience's tolerance for goofiness laced with gore.

Thus, in the first episode, directed by Jeremy Dobrish -- a new installment will be performed twice each Saturday through Aug. 29 -- we meet the recurring characters who frequent the scene of the crime, otherwise known as the Lakeview Hotel. They include the mutilated victim, Herberto Hermosa (Arthur Halpern) and his widow (Ms. Purcell), who finds his body and calls the shady lodge's hotel dick, name of Dick Piston (Arthur Aulisi), an inept writer of detective fiction himself, who identifies suspects in every room.

This being an Adobe production, of course, the plot takes wild detours into other genres -- a werewolf is among the possible culprits -- and through the yuck-strewn world of odd bodily functions. One agonized hotel denizen provides Dick with a Polaroid snapshot of his digestive disorder -- it's a funny bit, but don't ask -- and various characters step out of the action to become pitchmen for companies with purported commercial tie-ins to the show.

Try to memorize as much as you can of what you see, because you'll be quizzed: a trivia contest about "Larry and the Werewolf" immediately follows each performance.

The "Larry" of the title is a mute entertainer, Larry Fingers (Michael Garin), half of a seriously demented lounge act, "Larry Fingers and Spike," the headliners in the Lakeview's seedy cabaret. He's polyester, she's heavy metal. As played by Janice O'Rourke, wearing the giant crucifix around her neck, Spike is a heavenly creation in spite of her hell raising.

The ludicrous Larry and Spike are the kind of cross-cultural figures of fun at which Adobe excells. They're like refugees from a particularly loopy episode of "Viva Variety," the Comedy Central sendup of Euro-trashy talk-and-talent shows.

Aulisi, terrific in the Adobe's last production, "The Handless Maiden," does nicely as the twerpy investigator, and he gets first-rate support from, among others, Jim McCauley as Aulisi's fantasy alter ego, Vin Knight as a hotel guest from modern-day Italy (or perhaps Rome circa 20 B.C.) and Jay Rosenbloom as one Wolfgang Biederman, a mysterious customer who only appears when there's a full moon.

The company says that a summary of the story so far will precede each week's contribution, but beyond continuity, the trick here is to sustain the anything-goes atmosphere without lapsing into sloppiness.

Given a reliable record for cheek and style, you begin to feel that if any troupe can pull it off, Adobe can.



Episode 1.

By Jeff Goode; directed by Jeremy Dobrish; producer, Christopher Roberts; lighting by Paul Ziemer; sets by Mathew Maraffi; costumes by Meganne George; sound by Chris Todd; composer, Michael Garin; production manager, Stephanie McCormick; stage manager, John Donahue. The Bat Theater Company presents the Adobe Theater Company. At the Flea Theater, 41 White St., Tribeca, Manhattan.

CAST: Arthur Aulisi (Dick Piston), Michael Garin (Larry Fingers), Vin Knight (Alfredo Centauri), Jim McCauley (Fantasy Dick), Janice O'Rouke (Spike), Erin Quinn Purcell (Helga Hermosa), Arthur Halpern (Herberto Hermosa), Jay Rosenbloom (Biederman) and Stacey Leigh Ivey (Fantasy Chick).