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Kathy & Mo: The Dark Side

Good Dog Prods. presents an evening of sketches by Kathy Najimy, Mo Gaffney; director, Dean Parisot; executive producer, Najimy; producer, Leigh Fortier; co-producer, James L. Nederlander Jr.; production designer, Naomi Slodki; lights , Simon Miles; costumes, Ray Aghayan; sound, Debby Van Poucke; music, John Boswell. Opened, reviewed June 28, 1995; runs through July 2. Running time: 1 hour, 55 min. #Cast: Kathy Najimy, Mo Gaffney; voices of Geraldine Fitzgerald, Paul Taylor Robertson Returning to Hollywood's Henry Fonda after a three-night HBO taping in May, comic actresses and writers Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney booked an additional seven shows to do the same material, without the TV cameras. Skilled performers who have no problem articulating a point of view, the two women definitely fill a void: These aren't the Mommies redux.

Good Dog Prods. presents an evening of sketches by Kathy Najimy, Mo Gaffney; director, Dean Parisot; executive producer, Najimy; producer, Leigh Fortier; co-producer, James L. Nederlander Jr.; production designer, Naomi Slodki; lights , Simon Miles; costumes, Ray Aghayan; sound, Debby Van Poucke; music, John Boswell. Opened, reviewed June 28, 1995; runs through July 2. Running time: 1 hour, 55 min. #Cast: Kathy Najimy, Mo Gaffney; voices of Geraldine Fitzgerald, Paul Taylor Robertson Returning to Hollywood’s Henry Fonda after a three-night HBO taping in May, comic actresses and writers Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney booked an additional seven shows to do the same material, without the TV cameras. Skilled performers who have no problem articulating a point of view, the two women definitely fill a void: These aren’t the Mommies redux.

The term “generic” could apply easily to the two New Jersey girls, trying to relate “West Side Story” to their own lives, having just noticed that the show is “a complete rip-off” of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Straight out of “Saturday Night Live” (but, of course, funnier and with a point) is a sketch in which the two girls, now lapsed Catholics and neo-hippies on their way to an ashram, discover the truth behind the cliche that there are no atheists in foxholes.

Catholicism is one of the running themes behind the humor of Najimy and Gaffney; also linking sketches are bits of once-popular songs (often quoting lyrics, conversationally) including Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel,” Neil Young’s “Love Is a Rose” and Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.”

There are also casual references to Mama Cass Elliott and Rita Coolidge: One would think they’d stopped listening to popular music in the ’70s. A mention, near the end of the show, of “Mrs. Kurt Cobain” comes as a downright cultural shock.

There’s a funny bit wherein two aspiring actresses trade jargon (“I caught myself being dishonest in a scene — I hyperventilated and then passed out”), and another involving a singer (Najimy) in a saloon, belting out “Little Lamb” (from “Gypsy”) as she waits for what could be her big break: nine months in a road company of “Hello, Dolly!”

Gaffney plays the gay bartender, Paul.

In more serious solo showcases, Gaffney plays a protester in front of a birth-control clinic and Najimy portrays the aunt of an AIDS patient (this is a continuation of a sketch in the duo’s earlier show, “Parallel Lives,” in which Maddie discovers that Philip is gay).

The show’s conclusion, and perhaps most ambitious piece, finds Najimy as a housewife dreaming of becoming Mrs. Kenny Rogers (with “Lady” playing in the background), in contrast — or is it? — to Gaffney’s simultaneous portrayal of a streetcorner hooker.

Director Dean Parisot keeps the action humming and the laughs coming; production designer Naomi Slodki’s set suggests a number of possibilities without overwhelming the action.

Sound at the Henry Fonda was echoey and brittle on opening night; improvements are promised.

Kathy & Mo: The Dark Side

(Henry Fonda Theater, Hollywood; 863 seats; $ 20 top)

Production: The two assume a variety of characters, ranging from teenage girls and golden-aged women to a gay man. The pieces -- somewhere between sketches and one-acts -- can be out-and-out funny, or sharply poignant. Although there are a couple of generic scenes, Najimy and Gaffney can be quite inspiring when their characters are out of the ordinary.

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