Late Night two-times The Stepford Wives.

Old Wives Tales 

Late Night two-times The Stepford Wives.

Reaching back into its goody bag, Late Night Theatre stages A Tribute to the Stepford Wives, and you partly want to whine, "But Santa Claus, you gave me that a couple years ago!" The troupe is in transition (and its new West Bottoms site might be more temporary than the company thought), so reviving a familiar show might have been easier on everyone's nerves -- but lingering in the air is the unmistakable scent of deja vu.

From the film version of Ira Levin's novel The Stepford Wives, Ron Megee and Philip blue owl Hooser have spun off a show that is more enthralled by its period -- the kitschy mid-'70s -- than the book's rebuke of suburban ennui. When the chauvinistic villains of Late Night's piece tear down an assertive character's tennis court, it should, even as parody, make you nervous; it's clear the men are getting their way. But here it becomes merely an echo of an earlier, funnier bit.

The actors are amazingly consistent, though, given the number of times they detour around the script. Megee's Joanna Eberhart seems more petulant and detached from her family than in the first production; similarly, Gary Campbell's Bobbie Markowe is more frenetic and David Wayne Reed's Carol Van Sant is scarier -- Carol's eyes seem to have been replaced with glass ones from a taxidermist. There's also impressive work from DeDe Deville, Damron Russel Armstrong and Ray Ettinger.

Kudos also to the costume-design team of Deville, Georgianna Londre and Andy Chambers. Much of the wardrobe consists of thrift-store treasures, but there is a dream sequence in which the wives are crowned with hats made of colanders, Brillo pads and Clorox bottles -- a nightmare vision of Andy Warhol trapped in a Wal-Mart.

The show's familiarities certainly don't breed contempt. It's just that jokes about Martha Stewart, creaky puns about the male organ and the body stocking with the pubic hair are, the second time around, less amusing than when they were fresh.

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