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Funny from start to finish

Clockwork at Olympia Little Theatre

Left to right: Jeremy Holien as Harold, Laura Miller as Diane, Ryan Hendrickson as Monroe, Debbie Sampson as Nola, and Heather R. Christopher as Frieda. Photo courtesy Olympia Little Theatre

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Clockwork at Olympia Little Theatre is ridiculously funny. Written by Pat Cook and directed by Robert McConkey, with a huge cast including some of Olympia's best, it is a hilarious marriage of Agatha Christie, Larry Shue and Hee Haw.

The Dunwoody clan is the kind of huge family one might expect is the result of years of in-breeding. Two of them, Zack (Tom Sanders) and his nephew Leon (Christian Carvajal) are relatively intelligent -- and devious as all get-out. The rest are idiots and drunks (but smart enough to quote the Bible and giants of literature almost correctly).

Leon's wife, Frieda (Heather Christopher), is a sexy airhead who histrionically cries and shouts a lot. Monroe (Ryan Hendrickson) can't walk three steps without falling in a drunken heap, usually on top of someone. The rest of the Dunwoody clan are equally ludicrous.

Leon has wrenched his leg and doesn't so much limp as hop around like a crippled frog (of which there is one in the play ... also a poisonous snake), and he refuses to tell anyone how he hurt his leg.

This much of a spoiler can be allowed because it is spelled out on the theater's website: when Zack finally convinces Leon to tell him what happened to his leg, the story he tells is so funny that Zack literally laughs himself to death. After he dies, the grandfather clock that has not worked in years chimes one, and Nola (Debbie Sampson) says, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

From then on, someone is killing all the Dunwoodys one by one, and every time a Dunwoody dies the clock tolls.

Tossed into this comic mystery are a disappearing dissected frog, a hillbilly doctor (Amanda Stevens), a greedy and constantly irritated messenger (I.B. Thomas) and a cook who hates her job (Jody Chapin).

The entire cast is uniformly great. They nail their characters, and their timing is spot-on, even in the final dress rehearsal. Most outstanding for rubber-faced expressions and physical comedy that rival the likes of Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett are Carvajal, Stevens and Christopher.

The messenger's obviously fake beard and Frieda's outfit (costumes by Barb Matthews) are the perfect touch. The set by McConkey and Robin Mack is delightfully rich in color and pattern, and kitschy props by stage manager Silva Goetz -- complete with a plethora of PBR cans -- add the ideal touch to make the Dunwoody home the kind of place one would expect such a clan to live in.

Clockwork is silly, light-hearted and laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish.

CLOCKWORK, 7:25 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; 1:55 p.m., Sunday, through Nov. 11, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia, $11-$15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., 360.786.9484,

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