A few minutes into Don Evans' "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," Lewis Dix, who plays a nightclub owner, steps out of the scene and goes into a stand-up comedy routine, berating latecomers.
This type of direct-audience address -- known in theatrical terminology as breaking the fourth wall -- adds an unusual flair to this otherwise predictable sitcom-style show, currently playing a two-week run at the Lyric Opera House.
As the action progresses, most of the actors share asides with the audience. The central character, Beverly, is an orphaned southern bumpkin who comes north to be with her street-smart guardian, Caleb, played by Mr. Dix.
Kim Fields -- best known as Tootie on TV's "The Facts of Life" -- plays Beverly as a total hayseed; she chomps a chicken leg during her monologue. But she also lets us know she gets what she wants, and in this case she's set her sights on Caleb.
Interfering with Beverly's intentions are her minister uncle (Marvin Wright-Bey) and his social-climbing wife, played by Ms. Fields' real-life mother, Chip Fields. A subplot concerns the minister's nerdy collegestudent son (Kelly Neal) and the son's possibly pregnant girlfriend (Judi Williams).
Love, and especially sex, is in the air for all three of these couples. And though the characters' philosophies are completely transparent, it's amusing to hear them spelled out in each of the performers' distinct styles during the monologues.
Without exception, however, their styles are exaggerated. Directed by Ron Milner, the production is plagued with %o overacting. The worst offender is Harold Moore, who acts the buffoon in the small role of Ms. Williams' uncle, pronouncing every other word in an almost unintelligible falsetto.
The title, incidentally, is an expression that means: Don't let one disappointment slow you down. It's a nice, simple, upbeat message, which this three-hour show takes too long to deliver.
"One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" makes an admirable attempt to combine sitcom with sex farce and stand-up comedy, but in the process it manages to overdo all three.
"One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" continues at the Lyric Opera House through April 7; call 481-6000.