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Low Comedy, High Fun

Stages takes a gamble with the Marx Brothers, and rolls a winner

Much of modern comedy owes debt to the Marx Brothers, from Woody Allen's Groucho-type asides to the no-gag-is-too-silly Monty Python troupe. Spawning a goofiness so total and in sync, it makes sense they're family: where else is one relaxed enough to be so completely dopey and smart? In 1925, when The Cocoanuts was playing to packed Broadway houses, The New York Times critic described it as "perfect clownery," with "none of the snobbery of cleverness." During Christmas, with its Noël Coward revue, Stages aimed at the droll snobbery of clever wit; with The Cocoanuts, Stages hits the low note, and with much better success.

The Cocoanuts plays through March 19 at Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 527-8243.

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