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
The production's high point is McDonough's perfectly calibrated performance as Clara — a monument to dignity and decorum gently overlaying her hideous betrayal of her husband, and the increasingly clear reasons for it.
Over at Sacred Fools, it doesn't take long to grasp that our self-help power couple is neither powerful nor a couple. But the play finally kick-starts with the arrival of delivery guy Cesar (Ronnie Alvarez), bearing a huge mannequin-shaped computer that answers questions, instead of the long-promised books authored by Robin and Randy.
The couple's assistant, Estrella, a single mother and college student who can barely afford her baby's formula — she's played by the delightful Marta Portillo, growing more contentious by the minute — takes a stand: Since things have gone so terribly wrong, the fees the couple collected for the workshop, which she clutches in a case on her lap, should be returned to the audience. Anything less would be a con.
Towne's Robin is clearly horrified by this suggestion. She's lived the better part of her life on cons. And so begins an election, orchestrated by Cesar and Estrella, on whether the money should be returned to the audience, given to the homeless couple, given to a homeless organization, to the theater, to the American Civil Liberties Union or to other destinations proposed by the audience.
In the blink of an eye, we're all of America, arguing over and voting on whether to give nickels to the arts or to the homeless, while collective bargaining is swept away on the other side of the land.
The play is like one of those roller-coaster rides where at first you say, "Yeah, yeah, show me something I don't know." Then suddenly the carriage lurches skyward, and you can't help but think, "My goodness, what a view."
FREE $$$ | Written and directed by Jonas Oppenheim | Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Silver Lake | Sun., 7 p.m., Thurs., March 24 and 31, 8 p.m. | Through April 3 | (310) 281-8337, sacredfools.org
TRIO | By Israela Margalit | Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. | Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m. | Through April 10 | (323) 960-4412