John Patrick Shanley's two-hander about a pair of lonely, self-loathing bar rats who bond by way of confessions, cursing and beer guzzling gets an inspired staging in the hands of director John McNaughton. Danny (Matthew J. Williamson) meets Roberta (Juliet Landau) after a fistfight in which he thinks he's killed someone. Unfazed by his potential for homicide, Roberta woos Danny and reveals to him her long-kept, shameful secret. A night laced with violence and awkward affection soon evolves into phase one of a plan for healing and redemption. Shanley's script leaves almost no other choice than over-the-top acting near play's end, and Landau goes for a full-tilt brand of mania that almost slips into unintentionally comic territory. Still, both actors bring significant substance to the streetwise characters, and their easy chemistry makes the quick love connection believable. Keiko Moreno's efficient set impresses. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 18. (818) 745-8527, crowncitytheatre.com.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Sun., March 4, 7 p.m.; Sat., March 10, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 11, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 21. Continues through Feb. 19, 2011