Though placed specifically in an African-American context, Lynn Nottages frightening fable speaks of earthly karma and dire comeuppance for all who turn their backs on those who gave them life and sustenance. In a potent performance, Adeye Sahran portrays Undine, a high-powered Manhattan PR mogul whose world collapses as her sleazy Argentinean gigolo-husband robs her of her lifestyle and her fortune. So its back to Brooklyn and the projects to face the family she had been pretending had died, when she created her manicured identity 14 years earlier. Though there is some sense that this story is about a particular injustice to black folk who try to rise too high, it is much more interesting as an examination of any person who loses humanity through personal greed and arrogance but reclaims it through acceptance of responsibility and empathy. Brisk direction by Ben Campbell and a remarkable ensemble who jump in and out of multiple roles at a moments noitce keep the play exciting, and alternately moving and funny. Particularly effective is Lyn Michele Ross, who plays the most extreme characters with confidence. All of whom Campbell creates with a dearth of physical production values; this compromises the events integrity somewhat but does not ruin it. West Coast Ensemble at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through June 13. Tix.com, (800) 595-4849.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 6 p.m. Starts: June 4. Continues through June 13, 2010