Stark Raving Theatre at the Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through August 23, $8-$17

Watching ElectroPuss is like watching adult-themed Saturday morning cartoons. A show for those with short attention spans, it pulls you through a frantic, funny program of super-heroes and villains.

ElectroPuss resides in a shadowy fantasy world reminiscent of Gotham City, in which everything is run by Electric Land, a power company that takes the Power part very seriously. Electric Land employs the whole town, funds the schools, and keeps its workers subdued with spirit cheers and "donut Tuesdays." "We're family" is the company motto used to brainwash the employees, but it's the most dysfunctional version of a nuclear family imaginable.

There's Electric Lucy (Elizabeth Young), the 100-watt frizzed-out beauty whom, after a mysterious accident, shocks people on contact. Tumor Tom (Drew Barrios) is a janitor by day, and Lucy's top-hatted side-show barker by night; and Muffy Jonesmith (Erin Matley) is a hyperactive 18-year-old receptionist whose motor mouth and innocence tips the scales of palatability. Then there's Bob Mickey (Todd Van Voris), the red suit-strutting VP of Electric Land with a heavy hand for the ladies and a thing for his secretary.

The characters are stock, but that's the point. A frantic energy pulses through their interactions, pushing them together or repelling them apart like they were human magnets. Add to that the most famous and fabulous comic book plot device of all time--the freaky "accident" that turns Everyman (or woman in this case) into a wizened, bitter superhero with a skin-tight punky wardrobe and a thirst for vengeance. Think that scene from Batman Returns when Catwoman is invented. Now think of a yeowling ElectroPussy, tail and all.

Despite the pulp motif, ElectroPuss tries to pack in some heavy themes. Corporate robbery, domestic abuse, disintegration of the family, environmental ruin for profit...it's all incorporated. And like the campy noir soundtrack running through the background, you don't need to take any special note--the ideas are obvious. What's far more enjoyable is watching Electric Land's progressive meltdown, character by character. In a somewhat uneven plot progression the show morphs into a musical--ala Little Shop of Horrors--as the results of a company audit are aired. When the plug on this show is finally pulled the results are pretty hilarious. ANNA SIMON

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