Dangerous Neighbors

Dangerous Neighbors Provides Many Carefree Laughs for Adoring Audience

Ann Bennett
Register-Pajaronian, 2002

Well, "Dangerous Neighbors" is at it again. In the midst of all the turmoil in today's world, with wars, famine, pestilence and whatever else we have to worry about, is the aptly named "none of the above" theater company really necessary? Absolutely! Since 1994 this strange assortment of hilarious con artists has been offering up an irregular diet of comedy sketches that can't be beat. And this year's production, "Dangerous Neighbors: Bought Out," is the group's funniest show ever, as the cast of clowns skewers many of our current depressing news stories with devastatingly clever humor.

"None of the above" is at its satirical best when it can make us laugh at the kind of stuff that, deep down inside, we know we should be crying about – or at least, for heaven's sake, doing something about. So if the world seems hopeless and gloom is running rampant, go see "Dangerous Neighbors" and cheer up. Nothing is so terrible that we can't make fun of it.

Worried about mega-conglomerates taking over the world? You'll love the sketch "Lazaro's Resurrection" and "The Waiting Room." Nervous about the CIA and Homeland Security? "Company Wives" and "Nemesis" will make you weep with laughter. Disgusted by the rash of priestly molestations? "Under the Rug" (possibly the best piece in the show) will help you put things into proper perspective.

Do you have doubts about sustainable relationships? "The Anniversary Dinner" will encourage you – or discourage you, depending on which side of the table you occupy. If you want to learn how to present a treatment to a producer, "Serial Killer Island" will send you howling for the exit. And if you just want to laugh in pure appreciation, "Oedipus the Musical" gives the complex a whole new dimension.

The ten skits produced are all new and wonderfully imaginative. The theme of the evening, if such can be credited, is clearly the galloping growth of monstrous corporations that, according to the company's philosophy, gobble up all individuality and competition for the sake of money and power. The opening night audience winced with recognition even while it whooped with laughter at the outrageous presumptions. If anybody can take on the irony of global conglomerates, it's "none of the above" – and they do it with real class.

The company consists of five dedicated and imaginative comics. Paul Anderson provides perfect lighting and sound for the show, and actors Bill Burman, Eric Conly, Suzanne Schrag and Mike Steitz bring over two dozen characters to life in the ten sketches. Burman is also the chief writer and is, with Eric Conly and Mike Wagner, responsible for the uproarious musical numbers. Steitz is the most impressive vocalist in the group, and Schrag is without a doubt the fastest quick-change artist for miles around. Together, the four of them are funnier than the proverbial barrel of monkeys.

By now, the creators of "Dangerous Neighbors" have earned a devoted following that continues to grow as loyal fans return with friends to share in the "only in Santa Cruz" conceit that makes "none of the above" our very own. The company gives us release in laughter for what we can't manage to accept in real life. And does it with such lovely parody that – for a couple of hours, at least – we can pretend that everything is joyous and nobody is getting eaten up by Disney-Time Warner-AOL-Barnes and Noble-Starbucks, etc. (aka "The Lifetime Needs"), or anybody else either. This show will sell out fast, so don't wait to get your tickets.

"Dangerous Neighbors: Bought Out" continues in the Broadway Playhouse at the Santa Cruz Art League, 526 Broadway, Santa Cruz, through August 24, with performances Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. For ticket information, phone 429-9278.