Not long ago, the Ridiculous Theatrical Company decided to switch from parody to farce - developing its own comic vision, rather than limiting itself to lampoons of old movies and plays.
The results have been mixed. Charles Ludlam, resident playwright and director , has concocted one very funny work called ''Reverse Psychology'' and a reasonably humorous follow-up called ''Love's Tangled Web.'' But in his latest, ''Secret Lives of the Sexists,'' he has fallen down on the job. This is his campiest and silliest play since beginning his new approach, and the Ridiculous troupe does little to beef it up. Indeed, this is a rare occasion when one can envision another cast -- a less frantically frivolous one, perhaps -- doing better by the material, slim as it is to begin with.
Though the main characters are two married couples with assorted comical complaints, much of the humor is aimed at the women's liberation movement, which is chided for taking itself too seriously. As usual, Ludlam and company don't take themselves seriously at all, galumphing through the story with a curious mixture of discipline and abandon.
Their frolicsome attitude can be winning, but it seems wearing in ''Secret Lives.'' The saving graces are a few virtuoso turns by the ingenious Ludlam -- hanging from a ledge over a city street, doing his impression of a Hollywood glamour girl, and even poking his talented head from a baby carriage in the last scene. Such moments almost redeem the evening. The Phantoms of Louisiana
By contrast, nothing redeems ''The Phantoms of Louisiana,'' also called ''Les Fantomes de la Lousiane'' and now playing at the Performing Garage. This show, written and directed by Gary Indiana, and starring the underground actor Taylor Mead, is so lethargic it can barely gather the energy to tell its own sleazy story about a Southern family with emotional problems. The central portion includes a flashback to biblical times, which promises to make things interesting, but doesn't. The actors are as apathetic as the script.