The set for MadLab's production of "The Downtown Job" suggests the lower half of a woman's body. What that has to do with a plot about a trio of hapless thieves planning a heist becomes clear soon enough.

The set for MadLab’s production of “The Downtown Job” suggests the lower half of a woman’s body. What that has to do with a plot about a trio of hapless thieves planning a heist becomes clear soon enough.

Criminal mastermind Sturgeon (Jennifer Feather Youngblood), munitions expert Blowfish (Brooke Cartus) and factotum Seahorse (Scott Tobin) plan to cover up an explosive break-in by carefully timing it with the sound effects from a one-woman play next door.

That one woman is Ophelia, a performance artist who more or less affectionately sends up Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” with a puppet-driven historical tour of famous women titled “The Opening of Revelation.” Carmen Scott plays Ophelia with enough comic conviction to seduce both Seahorse and the audience.

Michael Moore doubles as a shadowy explosives dealer named Jaguar and as Ophelia’s former lover, the theatre critic Coolidge, who is pretentious in ways that only theatre critics have the humility to be. “I do not review,” Coolidge declares. “I shape destiny.”

Director Stephen Woosley gives this new play by Paul Cohen a light yet sincere quality that complements its humorous juxtaposition of the criminal underworld with the theatrical backstage.

Youngblood’s cleverly understated performance as the confident professional thief suggests that there may be a measure of art involved in larceny. And Scott’s flamboyant performance as the actress suggests that there might be more than a little larceny lurking in the shadows of art.

Photo by Jason Sudy