PL.A.Y NOIR Toys with Mystery

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The cast of “The Zone Ranger” in “PL.A.Y NOIR.”

The cast of “The Zone Ranger” in “PL.A.Y NOIR.”

Kingpins and gun molls out looking for dark dives, shady characters, and sleazy business need look no further than Punk Monkey Productions’ presentation of PL.A.Y NOIR. Combining the rat-a-tat-tat lingo of 1940s film noir, black comedy, and hilarious characterizations, the production parodies the dark sensibilities of the mystery genre.

Four one acts skewer the themes and conventions of movie mysteries: reticent witnesses, overly confident private dicks, hard-as-nails bimbos, clueless suspects, and shady officials.

“Speak No Evil” presents a mute street vendor (Andrew J. Hillis) who witnesses a murder and enlists the help of a down-at-his-heels private detective (Adam Hunter Howard) to bring the killer (Art Oden) to justice. Hillis’ woeful, puppy dog eyes speak volumes, while Howard wisely underplays.

Witty and playful, “Desperate Desires” blends forties lingo with contemporary references to archly satirize deadly dames and overly self-involved dicks, aided by the rhythmic energy and steely persona of Jim Shipley.

Over the top and hilarious, “The Zone Ranger” pushes stereotypes to extremes with corrupt politicians (Sarah Kelly, Michael C. Silva), slap-happy “businessmen” (Howard), and a take-no-prisoners private eye (James Elden), but possesses sexy chemistry and timing between Elden and Kelly, and a silly, odd duck performance by Silva.

“Outside Job” blends an old dark house mystery with clueless couples (Silva, Rebecca Herrick, Christopher Flowers, Elisa Dyann) as a weekend party host winds up dead and the four guests suggest an “outside job.”

Dark goings-on get the comedy treatment in the funny PL.A.Y NOIR.

Punk Monkey Productions presents PL.A.Y NOIR Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 26 at the Actors Workout Studio located at 4735 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Tickets cost $17 online, and $20 at the door. Please visit playnoirla.com or call 1-800-838-3006 to purchase tickets.

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