Marking its 10th anniversary, writer-director Paul Storiale's involving play explores the personalities and circumstances surrounding the Columbine high school massacre of April 20, 1999. After planting bombs, which fortunately did not detonate, two teenagers, Eric Harris (Artie Ahr) and Dylan Klebold (Justin Mortelliti) shot and killed 12 other students and a teacher, then turned their guns on themselves. Unveiling the story in non-sequential scenes, the script recreates the elements of the tragedy. Portraying not only the relationship between the perpetrators and their prior disturbed behavior (Harris laid out their plans on his Web site but they were never taken seriously), it also spotlights their devastated parents and some of the innocent victims. Among them was Rachel Scott (Rya Meyers), a popular girl and self-identified Christian who went out of her way to befriend the outcasts within the school body, where anyone who wasn't a jock was ridiculed. Transcending melodrama, the play delivers a nuanced account of the whole horrific event. Portraying the banality of evil is not easy, and Ahr does a scrupulous job imparting layers to the menacing Harris. Mortelliti communicates Klebold's precarious volatility, while Meyers, sweet without being saccharine, exudes a lovely presence. Other strong performances include Kelli Joan Bennett as Harris's mom, crushed with remorse, and Marquerite Wiseman as another grief-stricken parent. Production values are minimal but this is one of those barebones productions in which the drama needs no further embellishment. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun, May 12, 7 p.m.; thru May 16. (818) 766-9100.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: April 18. Continues through May 16, 2009