Hal Linden and Matt Walton in  <i>Under My Skin</i>
Hal Linden and Matt Walton in Under My Skin
(© Jim Cox)
The two main characters of the body-swapping comedy Under My Skin at the Pasadena Playhouse end up dressed up in each other's clothes. But no matter how director Marcia Milgrom Dodge tries to make the play feel relevant, it's the same old drag.

Single mom Melody Dent (Erin Cardillo) cares for her teenage daughter (Danielle Soibelman) and her ailing grandfather (Hal Linden) and tries to hold down a temp job in these tough economic times. And like many of us, she's frustrated by how the HMO system takes care of him.

Then an elevator accident and a heavenly interruption forces Melody into the body of her lecherous, egomaniacal boss, Harrison Badish (Matt Walton), and vice versa. Now the girl who had nothing lives in a penthouse and the guy with a silver spoon finds out that the 99 percent are living a life much tougher then he realized -- and much more courageously, given the faulty resources given to them.

While the show has its heart in the right place, wanting to remind audiences how broken the American health care system truly is, it doesn't really tell us anything we don't already know. Moreover, it wants to also add a new chapter in the battle of the sexes, but writers Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser (best known for their work on such sitcoms as The Nanny and Who's The Boss?) have penned a surprisingly predictable and shallow script, with few witty lines.

Perhaps to compensate for the play's weaknesses, Dodge allows the cast to hammer every line to death so that you resent the jokes instead of laugh at them. Nonetheless, Cardillo and Walton are both likable actors and give the sense that these are real humans behind the schtick. Linden is perfectly fine, but his talents are wasted in a minor role that gives him nothing to do but tell Borscht Belt jokes.

Monette Magrath and Tim Bagley play several roles, and even if they have no better material than anyone else, the pair displays a comic timing that lets them rise above the material. However, Megan Sikora as Melody's best friend and Yvette Cason as the Angel could have both used a different method of direction -- one less on speed.

Ultimately, though, the genre is to blame; it's time for writers to switch to a different theme.