Dangerous Neighbors

Towering Inferno

Mary Spicuzza
Metro Santa Cruz, 1998

Human instinct dictates that we pull a hand from a hot stove, but none of the above proves that instinct isn't everything when it comes to the fires of desire. Its Broadway Playhouse show, Dangerous Neighbors: Inferno of Love, shows the hilarious hell of the bizarre self-flagellation known as amore.

A comedic tour de dysfunction, this series of one-act plays owes much of its success to playwright/actor Bill Burman. He flexes his creative muscles with themes ranging from the scheming seductions of librarian Ethel Pratt as she builds her Dewey decimal-coded empire to the ill-fated romantics of "Love on the Hindenburg." Toss in trailer-park passions, Satan, desperate bachelors, and a painter of one-legged French prostitutes – let's just say it's much more fun than a typical theatrical evening.

With the exception of "Fastfood Ubermensh," a high-quality monologue devoted to the downfall of the cheap eats industry, each segment poetically illustrates the ridiculous things people do in the name of love.

Besides excellent dialogue, Inferno stands out for stellar performances by all seven actors – especially producer Eric Conly. The simple sets allow for smooth flow from one wonderfully twisted scenario to the next, and add to the shows's instinctual charm.

At the end of two hours of laughter comes the satisfaction of having witnessed genuiune local talent – and the comforting knowledge that everyone is equally ensnared in love's eternal damnation.