Stagebeat

STAGEBEAT

Nothing much happens in Lake Worth Playhouse's The Water Tower -- in the beginning. It's 1976, and Buddy, played by playwright Steven Griffith, lounges on the front porch of his aluminum trailer deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When he's not arguing with the countdown playing on the radio, he's shouting up to his mentally gone brother (Adam Simpson), who lives in the water tower. Brother returned from Vietnam three years ago and now is a shut-in, communicating through Morse code tapped out on metal. His connection with the outside world is a knotted rope, which he uses to pull up much-needed supplies, like beer. Buddy passes time by playing Caps, a drinking game, with his friend Tate (Paul Homza), whose sideburns and mustache cannot hide his naiveté. But something is different today. Joleen (Nancy Barnett), Buddy's wife, who ran off two years ago, is back. Sashaying up to an unsuspecting Tate in her low-cut tank top, she sets out to make a man of him while manipulating Buddy. The past hits Buddy like a baseball bat as Brother drops in to remind him about childhood tragedies and Joleen reveals a secret. Everything, from Griffith's shabby clothes and greasy hair to the way he slumps in his chair or barks an order, adds to Buddy's realism. Barnett effectively mixes sexual overconfidence and dominance beneath her trashy exterior. Homza rambles through his lines -- retaining humor but lacking depth. Simpson has an eerie, unwavering focus as he slinks camouflage-clad like a crouched panther... never speaking a word. (Through December 19 at the Lake Worth Playhouse's Stonzek Studio Theatre, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-586-6410.) -- Rachel Galvin

NOW SHOWING

Other People's Money --The shabby meeting room where the Public Theater of South Florida is performing this play, with lights jammed into ceiling tiles and black-out curtain fastened to the windows, is about as far from a traditional theater as you can get. But for this show? It sort of works. The play, written by businessman Jerry Sterner in the late '80s, doesn't need a fancy, Broadway-style set since the plot mostly revolves around two offices. The first is that of Larry Garfinkle, an overweight, Bronx-bred investor who buys failing companies and sells them piecemeal for profit. The other is that of Andrew Jorgensen (played by Sonny "Gravedigger" Levitt of Levitt-Weinstein Funeral Home), president of the soon-to-be-devoured New England Wire and Cable. Mitchell Carrey, the only professional actor, is a believable Garfinkle with his Brooklyn accent, large girth, and a natural way of delivering little entrepreneurial riffs. His love interest, Kate Sullivan (Jacqueline Laggy), also does a convincing job as a power-hungry attorney looking to save Jorgensen's company from certain death. The rest have good moments but never rise above the level of earnest amateur theater. (Through December 12 at the Public Theatre of South Florida, Soref Jewish Community Center, 6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, 954-537-3648.)

Sleeping Beauty, set in swinging mod England, includes full frontal nudity, transvestites, three-way orgies, LSD, rock 'n' roll, and go-go dancers. Not for the kiddies. The craziness begins with Enid Wetwhistle (Erynn Dalton), whose wild dancing and miniskirt shock fashion mogul Sebastian Lorre (Jim Gibbons) and his sidekick, the rotund Ms. Thicke (Jeff Holmes). At first, Lorre wants Enid to take a "personality suppressant." But when Lorre's treasonous sketch artist, Fauna (Jim Sweet), convinces cosmopolitan buyer Anthea (Melissa McSherry) that Fauna's designs outstrip Lorre's, Sebastian has a change of heart. Gibbons' swagger and face-scrunching snarl add comic effect. Sweet throws one-liners around with ease and maintains character throughout, whether smoking, meditating, palm reading, or discussing reincarnation. McSherry is convincing as a conceited, socialite, fashion slave. Hilarious throughout, this show is pure fun. (In repertory with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom through December 19 at Sol Theatre Project, 1140 NE Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-6555, www.soltheatre.com.)

 
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