While the overarching message in playwright Steve Yockey's fractured farce Disassembly isn't quite clear, its clever irony is nonetheless unmistakable.
Each of the comedy's daft desperate-for-love characters spins in his or her own idiosyncratic orbit. One exception to this needy bunch would be Evan (Alexis DeLaRosa), an accident-prone jock worshipped by both his demanding sister Ellen (Esther Canata), who throws fits when she's ignored, and his neglected fiancé, Diane (Alina Phelan), who is starved for his attention.
The play's wacky plot launches around Evan's latest mishap - an unprovoked stabbing while he was jogging in the park. The crisis prompts a visit from Ellen's smiley, sympathetic co-worker Tessa (Grace Eboigbe). She arrives escorted by her lifelong friend and wannabe lover Stanley (Travis Moscinski), whose devotions she discourages by reminding him that all four of her past fiancés died prematurely.
The disassembling among these and other characters - a shrill neighbor (Channing Sargent, who in full disclosure is a former L.A. Weekly intern) and Ellen's can't-take-no-for-an-answer suitor, Jerome (Tony DeCarlo) - propels the dark humor.
Credit director Tom Beyer and this talented ensemble (in this L.A. premiere at Theatre of NOTE) for a smart comic rendering of material that, with less skilled performers, could easily backfire. Standouts include Sargent, whose character is emblematic of the sort of miserable malcontent relentless in creating problems for others.
One aspect of the play that puzzled me was Yockey's opting to frame it within a parody of Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Crow." Hilarious in and of itself, the prelude/epilogue's paradoxical point - withstand flattery and you may keep your cheese but you'll end up alone - didn't quite jibe with the themes in the main story - reflections upon the toxicity of obsession and the desperate measures it sometimes takes to secure the love that you long for.
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Theatre Of Note, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Hlywd.; Thurs.- Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through March 22. (323) 856-8611, www.theatrofnote.com.
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