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Carpenter Square's 'Tom, Dick & Harry' earnestly acted, but result more clown than comedy

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If the wars, the economy and the holidays have you down, Carpenter Square Theatre will lighten your load with a modest entertainment titled "Tom, Dick & Harry." The play isn't exactly a lump of coal in the cultural stocking, but it's a fruitcake at best.

With "Tom, Dick & Harry," playwrights Ray and Michael Cooney employ the usual conventions of lowbrow comedy: puns, double entendres, flatulence jokes and sight gags. Sometimes, the pair just has characters tell jokes. (Did you hear about the shipload of blue paint that collided with the shipload of red paint? All the sailors were marooned.) At one point, a character refers to a plumber who can't find his "stopcock." You get the idea. Some of the humor might be considered more puerile and slightly offensive than funny.

STOWAWAY ALBANIANS
The play concerns Tom (Terry Veal) and his wife, Linda (Dawn Deckman Moeller), who are in the final stages of adopting a baby. They are preparing for a visit from Mrs. Potter (TooToo Cirlot), a representative of the adoption agency, when Tom's brother, Dick (Christopher Curtis), shows up with a load of cigarettes that he has smuggled from France, and two stowaway illegal immigrants (Caitlin Cairns and Paul Smith) from Albania.

Next, brother Harry (Brett Young), a hospital porter, arrives with a dismembered cadaver that he plans to use in a cockamamie scheme to lower the price of the house that Tom and Linda are renting, so they can afford to buy it.

Directed by Rhonda Clark, the play is performed on an earth-toned set designed by Clark and Caleb Schnackenberg with walls and a floor in an odd, cappuccino hue and severely overlit by Amy Ackerman. Charlotte Rose's costumes are fine. In fact, Constable Downs' (Ryan Joseph Swartz) uniform is kind of spiffy.

All of this rigmarole is performed with great boisterousness and wholehearted energy by the cast, but the action is not physical enough to be slapstick, and the humor is not clever enough to stimulate any part of the brain above the medulla oblongata.

Let's put it this way: The Cooneys can make Neil Simon look like a comedic genius.

Tom, Dick & Harry stages at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 19 at Carpenter Square Theatre, Stage Center, 400 W. Sheridan.

"?Larry Laneer

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