"P.S. Your Cat is Dead," James Kirkwood's comedy about a down-and-out actor, a gay burglar and the unconventional New Year's Eve they spend together, has a mean streak running right down its back. I fear it would take far more collective charm than is manifest by the cast of the newly-formed Circle Theater Company to make the play less than vaguely unsavory.

The company is operating, less than ideally, out of two connecting banquet rooms on the second floor of the Fraser House at 1701 20th St. NW. In such a setting, Frederic Lee's staging, although brisk, registers mostly as loud and cramped.

As the wise aleck who gets caught mid-theft, is strapped face down to the kitchen sink, and then suffers the further indignity of having his pants scissored off, Wayne Anderson gives a surprisingly animated performance. He's the only thing that's likable in this production, though. While it tries to pass itself off as a comedy about two ill-matched souls who may just save one another from drowning, "P.S. Your Cat is Dead" is really a slice of sado-masochism masquerading as a sitcom.

P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD. By James Kirkwood. Directed by Frederic Lee; set and lights, Gary Floyd; with Wayne Anderson, Tom Loftis, Celeste Morrow, Morrie Kraemer. At The Fraser House through Nov. 29.