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at the Loeb Ex tonight

By Phil Patton

MOVE OVER, Hugh Downs, Elaine May has devised and patented the biggest game show of them all, Adaptation, the game of life. Here are your instructions: The object is to find the Security Square among all those squares on the Big Board and win the Super Bonus Card, picking up maturity and success points on the way, and running into situations which allow as much harmless social satire as possible.

Materials included: game board of various colored squares to be spread out on the stage, a few playing pieces, and lying around till needed: a baby bonnet, an adolescent's edition of The Prophet, a college fraternity sweater, a martini glass, etc. and various packs of white opportunity cards, yellow penalty cards, and pink maturity cards. For the Games Master: a bell, a buzzer, and a whistle.

The rules: All for you to guess. The point system is obscure but tends to favor hits scored on the educational system, meaningful relationships, social involvement, and the American Dream. Racial, ethnic, and religious jokes may also help your chances.

A sample game: You are born and meet your white, middle-class, suburban parents. You soon learn about sex and what a Negro is. You go to public school, learn to feel guilt, and to dissemble (2 points). You move two big spaces into pubescence, entering into meaningful relationships and having an identity crisis. At college, you study hotel management and become socially aware by making friends with a black. By working as a campus spy for the CIA, you get a draft deferment and recommendations for a job with a good hotel chair. Now you are married and have a kid; Daddy drops dead in front of the television. A few quick success points managing the Chicago Hilton during the Democratic Convention, a gold utility closed key as a retirement gift--fortunately you have paid the life insurance when the coronary hits.

AT THE LOEB Ex they're playing Adaptation well enough for a good hour of laughter. Four players are involved: an Everyman named Phil Benson (Lindsay Davis); his parents and later teacher, psychiatrist, wife, and child (Jim Hickey and Francine Davis); and the Games Master (Lloyd Harris), who keeps the production jumping right along as he hands out points and penalties.

Under Richard Pena's direction, things move quickly enough so you don't remember having heard the jokes before on TV, except for the sags of a few dropped phrases. But the humor is there, and although Adaptation doesn't satirize anything which hasn't gotten plenty before, everything that it does satirize can still use it.

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