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Classic dark comedy 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' screens as part of Palm Theatre's Take Two Lives series 

Murder by numbers

The modern-day movie murder has gotten so predictable. The killers are always either moronic brutes or lascivious creeps, with less personality than a plastic teaspoon. So crass; no creativity whatsoever. Whatever happened to the elegance? The cuff-linked caper? The gentleman killer? If you, like George Orwell, decry the “Decline of the English Murder,” then have I got the film for you.

Released in 1949 from the famed Eeling Studios in England, Kind Hearts and Coronets returns grace and humor to the killer comedy. It tells the story of Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price), whose aristocratic mother, of the D’Ascoyne family, was disowned indefinitely the minute she married an Italian opera singer. As these things go, she dies, and Mazzini vows to avenge her dream of rejoining the family, by offing the entire line of heirs to his rightful dukedom. The catch? There are eight D’Ascoynes in the way, all played by the magnificent Alec Guinness. It sounds bleak, and it is, but it is also one of the wittiest and most intelligent and imaginative black comedies to ever be made.

Kind Hearts and Coronets will be screening as part of the Palm Theatre’s Take Two Live series, hosted by Jim Dee and Bob Whiteford, on Sept. 28. It begins at 12:30 p.m., and tickets are $10. For more info, call 541-5161.

Back to bases

Ah, baseball—America’s favorite pastime, besides Jell-O wrestling. It’s a popular sport, I’m told, and one rife with the kind of drama perfectly suited for the theater. There’s the thrill of the game, the ego of the athletes, the tension of race, class, and steroid-powered testosterone—a potent combination at work in Richard Greenberg’s play Take Me Out, which will be featured as part of SLO Little Theatre’s Ubu’s Other Shoe staged reading series.

Produced in 2002, the play follows successful and mixed-race baseball player Darren Lemming, who decides to come out as gay. The result is not at all as he expected. As the baseball season takes its course, Lemming encounters the mixed reactions of his teammates as his personal declaration takes the nation by storm. It’s a small play with big consequences. Take Me Out won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

You can catch Take Me Out at the SLO Little Theatre, on Sept. 26, at 7 p.m., and on Sept. 27, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit slolittletheatre.org.

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