P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD! -- Thursdays through Sundays at 8, through September 2 at Back Alley Theater, 1365 Kennedy Street Nw. 723-2040.
Poor Jimmy Zoole. He's 38 years old and at the bottom of his profession. Twenty years as an actor and he's just gotten written out of his soap opera and fired from his play. His girlfriend has just left him, he's been robbed twice and his cat died. All on New Year's Eve. No wonder he's depressed.
And then he's presented with the frustrated urban dweller's ultimate revenge fantasy: He catches the burglar who's been breaking into his apartment. It's too good to pass up. Here's somebody he can finally dump on. The next couple of hours are a peculiar blend of insults and insights as Jimmy and the burglar, whom he ties up lengthwise on his kitchen counter, get acquainted.
If you're offended by nudity, homosexuality, heterosexuality, drug usage and obscenity, "P.S. Your Cat Is Dead!" is not the play for you Author James Kirkwood, co-author of "A Chorus Line," also manages to offend gays, straights, women, actors, Catholics and Italians. But if you're willing to overlook the vulgarities, you may find yourself smiling in sympathy at his portrait of the down-and-out New Yorker whose luck can't get much worse.
The dialogue, witty at times, is impossible to reconstruct, centering as it does around various and sundry bodily functions. The argument could be made that it's a faithful rendition of how these characters would actually exprnss themselves, but all too often the device is a cop-out on the playwright's part -- it's much easier to fall back on a "dirty" word than to think up a precise one.
But let that pass. The costumes, set and lighting are all professionally done; the cast performs admirably in Back Alley's limited space. Neil Fuller is suitably hyper as Jimmy, and Vicent Wayne Anderson is endearing as Vito, the open-minded burglar who swings both ways. He's genuinely incensed when his intended victim turns the tables on him. "Hey man, I didn't do nothin' to you, " he whines. "What about me, I'm thirsty, too," he kvetches when Jimmy pours himself some wine. "Christ, even in jail they give you a lousy drink."
As they smoke, talk and gradually open up Vito about his life on the streets, Jimmy about his experences as an actor and frustrated writer -- the mood shifts, and there are touching moments, although after a bit the values they express begin to sound more California then Manhattan. Kirkwood should stick to doing what he does best, which is pointing up the absurdities of city life, and stay away from the sappy side of human relationships. CAPTION: Picture, VINCENT WAYNE ANDERSON AS VITO THE BURGLAR, IN "P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD," AT THE BACK ALLEY THEATER.