By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Swinburne also trains his jaundiced eye on the snobbish Mrs. Douglas, whom he quickly alienates toward withdrawing her consideration of Ms. Seymour's book, even as the publisher catches herself uttering more and more rude words. (Her husband's wildly inappropriate ejaculations, however, make the Senator something of a balding soprano, and Swinburne, by comparison, the epitome of plain talk.) Hors d'Oeuvres playfully makes its points about the impossibility — or at least the unacceptability — of coincidence in an ordered world, even as the plot becomes hallucinatory with the appearance of a befuddled police inspector. In the end, Swinburne, a self-proclaimed "harbinger of linguistic cataclysm" who has tried to monopolize both conversation and language itself, finds himself alone in a world literally without rhyme or reason.
McIntyre doesn't quite pull off this exercise in verbal entropy; the play gets a little too goosey in Act 2, especially when the characters begin referring to their situation as "the play." There's a fine line between the absurd and the pointless, and McIntyre's Ortonesque inspector stands firmly in the latter territory. Still, Hors d'Oeuvres is a sincere effort by an adventurous young group that I hope will take on more ambitious work in the future. Director Aaron Ginsburg is completely attuned to the text's offbeat comedy as well as its innuendoes about self-destructive dialogue, and does what he can to prevent the evening from devolving into what could have become a verbal food fight. His actors, especially the intense Montgomery, are likewise fully engaged in their characters and the anarchic dictatorship of language that McIntyre attempts to expose. But that tyranny, the playwright seems to imply, when contrasted with mindless silence, is still the lesser of two evils.
THE GOOD SHIP MANHATTAN | By PAUL MULLIN | Presented by THE SMALLER PROJECT at 2100 SQUARE FEET, 5615 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles | Through April 5
HORS d'OEUVRES | By WADE McINTYRE | Presented by MEADOWS BASEMENT at THEATRE/THEATER, 6425 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood Through April 13