In this provocative comedy-drama, Australian writer Joanna Murray-Smith tells a tale of two married couples who meet at an upscale tropical resort. Sadie (Kathy Baker) and Ed (Chris Mulkey) are rich, square Angelenos: He's a smugly successful tool manufacturer, but they are childless, and she's feeling disenchanted about their marriage. Chloe (Jaime Ray Newman) and Martin (James Van Der Beek) are young, idealistic and very much in love. He's a dedicated conceptual artist, she's a serious arts writer. The dissimilarities of the two couples prove a source of fascination: Each feels the other has something they lack. They become inseparable. When Ed is washed overboard in a boating accident, Martin leaps in and rescues him. Ed feels he owes his life to Martin, and wants to give him something in return. He asks Martin what the gift should be, and the answer proves both shocking and unnerving. Murray-Smith finds rich comedy and abundant sharp one-liners in the earlier scenes, but the later revelations are less persuasive. Director Maria Aitken elicits strong performances from her cast, but the chic minimalist set by Derek McLane emphasizes a pervasive unreality. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Wstwd.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through March 10. (310) 208-5454, geffenplayhouse.com.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 29. Continues through March 10, 2013