Call it inspiration or simple serendipity, but here, the right text, a sympathetic director (Michael Van Duzer) and performers with all the right chops come together to conjure stage magic. This pitch-perfect production of playwright Daniel MacIvor’s enchanting 2001 metadramatic sleight of hand is such magic. A bare stage, two actors — and what actors! — and more than half a dozen full-blooded characters are all that Maclvor requires for a jigsaw meditation on love, loss and the penitential nature of art. His narrative conceit is best described as a play within a play encircling a play. A playwright (Josh Gordon) creating scenes for a new work tries them out with an actor (Blake Anthony). Mordantly funny scenes about an Ivan Ilich–esque man’s awakening to the callowness of his family and the emptiness of his bourgeois existence are acted, interrupted and argued. While the roles are traded and then re-imagined by the two men, an unexpected connection emerges as the disintegrating relationship between the doomed performer-lovers finally completes the circle. Van Duzer realizes both MacIvor’s nuanced ironies and his biting comedy with no little help from his dynamic acting tag team. The square-jawed Gordon, whose angular features somehow heighten his expressive charisma (particularly when he does a drag turn as an unfaithful wife), boasts a commanding range. That virtuosity is matched by Anthony, who ups the ante with a natural charm and true comic flair. Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village; Sat., July 5 & Fri.-Sat., July 11 & 12, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 6, 3 p.m. (800) 838-3006.—Bill Raden
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