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Rose's Dilemma 

Thursday, Sep 11 2008
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“I told you to get rid of the sun!” barks author Rose Steiner (Margaret McCarley) to her caretaker, Arlene (Elizabeth Gordon), as part of her daily snark attack against the world. Five years ago, the grande dame of letters lost her pulp-fiction lover, Walsh (Don Savage), to a heart attack; no matter, he — or her imagination’s recollection of him — visits her every night for arguments and nookie. Rose has the force of a battleship, while Arlene, who has her own trite agenda, tries desperately to stay afloat. Still, to finish the last 40 pages of his uncompleted manuscript, Walsh presses her to hire a hustling but prideful ghostwriter named Clancy (Norman Dostal), who feels like the most authentic character in this bantamweight play. Compared to his other comedies, Neil Simon’s latest work is meant to be a sincere parlor play, but its big themes of grief and narcissism still feel more like ideas treated for a sitcom. Among the several poignant throwaway moments is when Rose defends embellishing her memories of a wild trip to Mexico with an invented yarn about shagging through prison bars. Yet, Simon can’t resist sweeping that, plot holes and other gestures toward depth, tidily under the rug in time for a sweet but unearned resolution. Roxanne Barker directs.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Starts: Aug. 29. Continues through Sept. 27, 2008

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Reach the writer at anicholson@laweekly.com

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