Carrie Barrett's comedy Focus Group Play, presented as part of the Katselas Theatre Company's LAbWORKS 2012, is set in a focus group assembled by a manufacturer to research attitudes toward its new products, a group of Meal Replacement Bars. But things don't go quite as planned. The group's pretty blonde moderator (Jen Drohan) desperately tries to keep chaos at bay and gather meaningful reactions from the obstreperous members of the group: Mandy (Celia Finkelstein) is a garrulous, needy young woman, who wants to be a stand-up comic, and whose talent for digression disrupts any reasonable discussion. Marta (Caro Zeller) is a no-nonsense Latina with an unexpected knowledge of geometry. Debbie (Darcy Shean) is a model who specializes in demonstrating household appliances. Jim (Brian Hamill), the only male in the group, is a family man with a touch of paranoia. Pamela (Alissa Ford) is an opinionated firebrand, who spearheads a rebellion against the company's hypocrisy and preposterous advertising claims. Though Barrett's mostly funny script bogs down occasionally, director Eric Hunicutt keeps the pace brisk and the laughs coming. In a top-notch cast, Drohan shines as a young woman trying to maintain her dignity despite impossible odds.
Sat., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 2, 3:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 9, 12:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 16, 3:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 23, 5:30 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m.; Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: Sept. 1. Continues through Nov. 4, 2012