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Short Takes 

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In the six breezy comedy sketches that comprise Mary Louise Wilson's Short Takes, actors get skewered with aplomb. "The Professional" is a monologue in which a ham (Jamie Wax) tells the tale of how he got booted from his one-line role on the soap opera All the Years of Our Days. In "Deer Play," an underemployed actress turns to gardening for solace and ends up in a battle royale with a stag (a hilariously horned and horny J. Patrick McNamara) who keeps munching her flowers. Tracey E. Collins is regally insane as a veteran thespian driven mad by a mysterious rival in the black-comic monologue "Rave," and Clare Moncrief and Carol Sutton get big belly laughs in two sketches about a pair of absent-minded traveling companions. The highlight is the show closer, "Road Work," a backstage comedy about some disgruntled actors on a road tour of what must be the worst Irish drama ever written. Wilson, a New Orleans native and Tony-winning actor-turned-playwright, shows an Elaine May-like flair for sketch comedy that's both sophisticated and daffy, and Carl Walker once again proves his locally unmatched talent for coaxing the best out of actors and writers with a seemingly invisible directorial hand. David Raphel's set, Christopher S. Arthur's costumes and Su Gonczy's lighting and sound design are all fine and unobtrusive. With a bit of workshopping, this premiere could easily find its way from St. Charles Avenue to Off-Broadway, which is its natural audience. (Bob Edes Jr. and Liann Pattison replace Wax and Collins this weekend.)

SHORT TAKES

By Mary Louise Wilson

Directed by Carl Walker

Starring Bob Edes Jr., J. Patrick McNamara, Clare Moncrief, Liann Pattison and Carol Sutton

8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., April 17-18; 6 p.m. Sun., April 19

Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., 581-5812

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