1951-2006

Writer-director Donald Freed's romance about a military veteran, Dave (Michael Matthys), who, in 1951, finds himself confined to a wheelchair in a grubby fourth-floor New York City walk-up, and the woman, Meg (Debra De Liso), who moves in across the hall. François-Pierre Couture's set shows the hallway with its grimy tile floor and slats emerging through the edges of the cement walls, offering an intersection of realism and surrealism that will play itself out in the drama — nicely aided by Christopher Ash's lighting schema. If you recall Bernard Slade's comedy, Same Time, Next Year about an adulterous affair that is sliced into scenes occurring at regular intervals through the decades — as the culture ages along with the characters — that's pretty much the template here. Sound designer John Zalewski serves up a soundscape of scene transitions that will stir any number of associations in people who have lived through them — the McCarthy hearings, news reports of the unfolding details of the JFK assassination, Nixon's resignation, Ronald Reagan's speech celebrating the continuity of our political process as the Carter administration handed over the reins of power. Dave is a Jewish anarchist who, in one scene, draws the attention of the FBI (Christopher Fairbanks), when he harbors a Black Panther Party member accused of shooting a police officer. Dave's is a sort of attraction of opposites to Meg, a lapsed Irish Catholic. The drama has far more literary and political resonance than dramatic momentum, largely because — with the exception of the FBI raid, when the characters must decide something in the moment — director Freed isn't entirely successful in drawing out the emotional tugs and pulls that lie beneath his very intelligent, often snappy and largely reflective dialogue, which says that this politically charged and appealingly smart couple have a deeply abiding love; I just got the sense that they were very friendly neighbors who enjoyed talking about politics. When Meg turns 86, a couple of hours after we saw her as a late–20-something, it's more than evident that time is the protagonist here, and we're seeing the aging of the progressive wing. I just wish that the romance were as persuasive as the history is poignant. Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through June 13. (213) 489-0994, ext. 2. Produced by Latino Theater Company.
Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: May 13. Continues through June 13, 2010


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