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Walking on the Moon

Ex-astronaut Chad Williams (Christopher Chisholm), who accidentally ran over fellow astronaut Tom Scott (Kevin O'Meara) with the lunar rover 20 years earlier , now stars in cheesy but memorable TV ads for carpeting so plush, "It feels like you're walking on the moon."

With:
Chad Williams ... Christopher Chisholm Kimberly ... Stefanie Milligan Maureen ... Kathleen Walker Arthur ... Earl Carroll Nadine ... Natalija Nogulich Tom Scott ... Kevin O'Meara

Ex-astronaut Chad Williams (Christopher Chisholm), who accidentally ran over fellow astronaut Tom Scott (Kevin O’Meara) with the lunar rover 20 years earlier , now stars in cheesy but memorable TV ads for carpeting so plush, “It feels like you’re walking on the moon.”

At a party, he meets Kimberly (Stefanie Milligan), a sleazy junior talent agent who works with her father (Earl Carroll), a specialist in promoting criminals.

The two promise Chad much wealth and fame if he writes about his moon accident — so long as he spices it up with dramatic lies to help sell it.

Milligan aims to explore temptation and greed, and his craft

shows in the play’s clear structure of a man falling from grace and finding redemption. However, protagonist Chad makes so many poor decisions he’s unlikable.

And in 20 years, Chad hasn’t met any reputable agents? When Chad ends up in jail, why does he take the first and clearly inferior lawyer that comes his way? (He doesn’t have his own lawyer? He doesn’t know how to find one?) For even an absurdist comedy to work well, there needs to be a rational center.

Other elements detract, particularly the agents — played over-the-top by Milligan and Carroll — who are trite and low class.

Not all is lost. The scenes with Scott and his downtrodden wife work well because the underlying tragedy lends texture. O’Meara’s Scott is the sharpest character in the play. Less is more.

As Scott’s wife, Natalija Nogulich brings delight; as director, Nogulich (who also produces) blocks well and paces the scenes quickly, but she perhaps misses giving the characters enough comic actions.

The moon set is designed with imagination by Mark Henderson and Tim Farmer.

Don Short’s sound, John Grant’s lighting, and Marcy Froehlich’s costumes rate high.

Walking on the Moon

(Egyptian Arena Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 18 top)

Production: Grace Players present a comedy in two acts by Jason Milligan. Produced and directed by Natalija Nogulich; associate producers, Susan England and Lark Karamardian.

Creative: Sets, Mark Henderson, Tim Farmer; lighting, John Grant; sound design, Don Short; costumes, Marcy Froehlich. Opened April 28, 1995; reviewed May 6; runs through June 11. Running time, 1 hour, 50 min.

Cast: Chad Williams ... Christopher Chisholm Kimberly ... Stefanie Milligan Maureen ... Kathleen Walker Arthur ... Earl Carroll Nadine ... Natalija Nogulich Tom Scott ... Kevin O'MearaWith: Don Short, Colleen Bachman, Sydney Walsh, Jack Rodgers, John J. Dalesandro, Darwin Alton, Mark Soper, Anthony Guidera, Peter Mele, Travis Michael Holder, Susan England, Christopher Wynne. The moon could probably be completely papered by the pages of plays that skewer Hollywood. Jason Milligan's "Walking on the Moon" boldly tries to push the limits of the genre, but much of the humor -- pushed to farce -- does not overcome the gravity of cliche.

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