Stage Raw: Pericles Redux
NEW REVIEW THEATER PICK
Photo by Donna Kane
The "sprung" in writer-director Tony Marsiglia's off-kilter, comic grand guignol carries multiple connotations for his antihero chemist, Samuel Nathanson (Marsiglia in a compelling performance). There is the sense of obsessive infatuation, although in the 49-year-old Nathanson's case it is not for his 20-year-old, pregnant girlfriend, Tracy (co-writer Donna Kane), but for the MDMA and methamphetamine crystals he cooks up and deals from his living-room lab. That he also loves to ingest the particularly potent creations he calls "red doxies" leads to the second sense -- the spaced-out, psychotropic paranoia produced by his ecstasy-eating diet. Finally there is the haywire clockwork sense of his tightly wound existence coming un-sprung before our very eyes. As the wild-eyed Nathanson painfully rehearses for the important job interview he is clearly in no shape to make, a succession of skeevy ravers (Jeremy Gladen & Lucas Salazar), psychotic tweekers (a charismatic Tom Wiilde & scene-stealing Amelia Gotham), malevolent cops (Gladen & Jim Eshom) and even a vindictive third wife (Denise Devlin) collide in his seedy apartment and derail his belated attempts to get his runaway train of a life back on track. Marsiglia, a direct-to-DVD horror auteur, successfully transfers his black, surrealist humor to the stage, racking up laughs, an impressive body count and a surprisingly authentic portrayal of the retreat into solipsistic self-destruction that awaits substance abusers of any stripe. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Aug. 1. (818) 202-4120. A Theatre Slanty production. (Bill Raden)
NEW REVIEW GO STOP KISS Manhattan traffic newscaster Callie (Deborah Puette) meets Sara (Kristina Harrison) the week the young blonde schoolteacher arrives in the city. Both have always identified themselves as straight: Callie's got her friend-with-benefits George (Christan Anderson), who she assumes she'll marry once they both stop trying to find someone better, and Sara has just left her boyfriend of seven years, Peter (Justin Okin), behind in St. Louis in her quest to find a bigger, harder, more worthwhile life. The two women gradually become best friends, deliciously tormented by their quiet hints that they both want a more physical relationship. But no sooner do they stick a tentative foot out of the closet than they're pushed out in the worst possible way -- as a news story about a violent bigot who puts Sara in a coma. Diana Son's time-jumping play about coping with the unexpected skips from their first meeting to Callie's first sitdown with the investigating cop (Jeorge Watson); we're rooting for the couple to get together under the shadow of the consequences. But Son's equal emphasis on romance makes the play looser and more inviting than a social problem drama, and the question isn't about the source of hate, but the depth of Callie's love when Peter announces that Sara's family wants to move her hospital bed back to Missouri. Under Elina de Santos and Matthew Elkin's direction, the ensemble opening night was still a little stiff, but Puette's tender performance captures a haphazard woman realizing that she's finally sure of at least one thing. Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru July 26, www.roguemachinetheatre.com. (323) 960-7774. A Rogue Machine production (Amy Nicholson)
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