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Goodbye Geraldine

The following day, Alex comes home to find Jeffrey all toasty and cheerful. It seems Jeffrey had gotten into an argument with Geraldine, resulting in his strangling her and stuffing the body into a trunk that serves as their coffee table.

The following day, Alex comes home to find Jeffrey all toasty and cheerful. It seems Jeffrey had gotten into an argument with Geraldine, resulting in his strangling her and stuffing the body into a trunk that serves as their coffee table.

The heat is really on when Verburgh (Rusdi Lane), Geraldine’s janitor boyfriend, realizes the body is in their apartment. He has a heart attack from the shock and dies; the boys try to hide the bodies as friends and neighbors stop by to visit.

Playwright Ryan has taken characters who seem too close for comfort and put them in a situation that is larger than life. At times the storyline seems built to house the tired gay-vs.-straight jokes, which have been heard before.

Gardner creates a credible character with the looks, pathos and pathology of a Menendez brother. Morri, as Alex, adds counterpoint and balance to his roommate’s frenetic antics.

Stephanie Ittleson outshines her role as the kindhearted, not-so-dumb neighbor with designs on Jeffrey. Veteran actors Lane, as janitor Verburgh, and Bill Feeny, as Ace, a policeman and friend of the family, add strong support and amusing characterizations to the main plot.

Director Jeffrey Wylie keeps the action moving, enhancing the campy, cartoon flavor of the story. Set designer Steve Harris takes us to an apartment that has been occupied by everyone who has ever struggled to pay the rent. The set he’s created is so precisely detailed, one can almost hear a mousetrap snap under the kitchen sink.

Goodbye Geraldine

(Coast Playhouse, West Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 18 top)

Production: The Coast Playhouse presents a comedy in two acts by Michael Ryan. Director, Jeffrey Wylie; producers, Wylie, Ryan; set, Steve Harris; costumes, Tim Neuman. Opened May 29, 1995; reviewed June 16; runs through July 5. Jeffrey ... Tim Gardner Alex ... Brian Morri Angela ... Stephanie Ittleson Verburgh ... Rusdi Lane Ace ... Bill Feeney An enthusiastic and colorful ensemble cast breathes life into a sitcom-style script in Michael Ryan's "Goodbye Geraldine," about a struggling writer and his actor roommate during a Chicago winter when their landlady tries to freeze them out. Strong directing adds zip and energy to the slapstick antics. The title character is an unseen, 400-pound, tyrannical landlady who is despised by all her tenants. Alex (Brian Morri), a struggling gay writer, and Jeffrey (Tim Gardner), a struggling straight actor, can't afford to move out because they'll lose their security deposit, and they jokingly plot her demise.

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