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Arts and Entertainment

It's Simon Thaddeus Mulberry-Pew!

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"Well, what was the lesson? What did we learn?
- That blackmail's okay if they're rich and you're poor!
- When you chop up a body, start with the head?
How about when you kill someone, make sure they're dead?"

The (nothing) Sacred Fools have joined the ranks of unforgettable Christmas entertainment with their latest show, A Dr. Jeuss Christmas, running now through Dec. 30. The Fools like to push the envelope, but we think they've dispensed with all envelopes entirely in this one. Let's just say that any production that puts a literal sack of shit on the stage is asking for an obvious comparison to be made. To the Fools's strength, Dr. Jeuss survives the comparison - somehow - and comes off as a light if profane piece of cotton candy.

This rhyming taradiddle takes the all-too-familiar tale of the two kids at home who get in trouble when the Cat in the Hat comes to visit, adds a Christmas twist (and a heavy-handed lesson about wealth and sharing) sprinkles in a lot of sex and swearing, and we have an updated classic for the post-Seusstastic.

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A strong cast, anchored by twins Sammy and Tammy (Ryan Schwartzman & Christiane Cannon) bounces around the stage like cartoon characters while reverting, updating, and perverting Seuss's rhymes. The general plot is about a squabble over toys between the twins and their rich neighbor, Simon T. Mulberry-Pew (Jason Frazier.) When the twins try to get rid of snobby Simon, they end up killing him, and the Wizzit - a character who saves troubled kids from jams - comes to help them dispose of the body.

This is an original and defiant little script, but we thought there were a few too many jokes about pedophilia. The Wizzit (this production's behatted Cat), an energetic and unforgettable Russ Jones, tries to save the very thick humor with an equally treacly Scottish accent. We like the Scots as well as anyone, but how many times can you see an ass getting grabbed before it's neither surprising nor shocking?

We have nothing but respect for John Mitchell's direction, which makes the most out of the cheap gags with an exquisite sense of timing, but we beg to differ from his program note, which asserts that "you will find yourself believing in the magic of the season in a whole new way by the end of the show." If by believing you mean being strangely revolted, perhaps. We'd had more than enough of Christmas, good or bad, by the time Dr. Jeuss rhymed his last.

Mercifully brief and unrelentingly dirty, Dr. Jeuss will shake you up - if it doesn't make you gag on your candy canes. It performs Thurs-Sat at 8 pm, Sun. at 2 and 7, through Dec. 30, at 660 N Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood, just south of Melrose. There is some free and some paid parking - get there earlier for the free stuff. No performances Dec 24 and 25. This one will amuse the teenagers in the family.

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