While he’s putting the moves on Veronique — who turns out to be a Muslim assassin out to avenge L’Atexio’s blasphemous art — Akril’s smarmy agent arrives with an NEA inspector also concerned about the controversial nature of his painting.
Added to the mix are Art’s sister Meg (Rhonda Aldrich), an art gallery owner with a somewhat unlikely crush on Fred; Art’s forgetful mother Dot; manic-depressive artist Dee Wraith (Helen Cates), creator of the phallic sculptures that are the subject of many obvious jokes; and eventually L’Atexio himself, who turns out to be a milquetoast manipulated by his agent.
The humor is of a low order. The Arab assassins are emissaries of the Emir of “Pepsmeer,” and we are not spared the line “Holy Shiite!” Implausibilities of circumstance are the stuff of farce, but attention must be paid to character; here we are expected to find it believable, and even sweetly comic, that the Muslim killer goes soft on Art and ends up in his arms.
Ziering does most of his acting with his eyebrows. They’re handsome, blond eyebrows — like the man himself — but watching them furrow and rise is not endlessly fascinating. To give him the benefit of the doubt, the play’s general insipidity doesn’t require much else.
On the other hand, Kaplan manages to make her ridiculous character charming against all odds, playing each silly twist with wide-eyed conviction. Claussen has some of the play’s funnier bits as Dot, and Tofel is suitably oily as the crass Sid.
Lawrence Cox’s direction accents the obvious, but there’s nothing in the play that doesn’t fit that description.