In his deceptively simple, powerful solo show, playwright Brian Stanton describes the process of reuniting with the birth mother who gave him up for adoption when he was an infant. Although material on this sort could easily founder on reefs of melodramatic cliché, the piece is instead deeply moving, and Stanton launches us on an existentialist journey as his inner debate over meeting his mother shifts into Hamlet-like musing on the nature of self-definition and the heartfelt needs we may not even be aware of. The play charts the paroxysm of the self-analysis that occurs after Stanton, an appealing young performer who looks as though he is central casting for the happy-go-lucky next-door neighbor on a TV sitcom, learns his birth mother's name. When he subsequently discovers the horrific incidents that led to his being put up for adoption in the first place, the knowledge takes on the force of Greek tragedy, as Stanton must come to grips with the fact that he is, in his own words, "part victim, part monster." In director McKerrin Kelly's brisk, passionate production, Stanton's writing is simultaneously dramatic and erudite, eloquently juxtaposing the philosophy of Plato and Buddha along with his own not-to-be-disparaged poetic turn of a phrase and he demonstrates a flair for creating unexpected images out of the most minimalist concepts, such as a sequence in which he imagines a conversation between himself and the ghost image of his rapist biological father, who is depicted as a coldly smiling prophet of evil. Stanton's skill in balancing a profoundly personal tale with classical underpinnings ultimately hints at the evocative idea that all our lives are full of events and incidents that touch on the mythic and the timeless. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 p.m.; through May 23. (323) 960-5770. A Lone Star Ensemble Production.
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 16. Continues through May 23, 2010