A Memory of What Might Have Been

George Bernard Shaw wrote that “men and women are made by their own fancies in the image of the imaginary creatures in [their] youthful fictions, only much stupider.” Life imitates art, in other words, and usually very badly. Or so it goes in playwright Robert Riemer’s wickedly funny assault on the myth of romantic love. A day and a half after walking out on their respective marriages and families, middle-aged fugitive lovers Gordon (Joseph Aaron Campbell) and Nina (Jackie Quinones) wake up in a cheap Baja California motel room to take stock of their impetuous flight to rekindle their onetime teenage romance. In the sobering light of day, however, spent passions can’t conceal doubts festering under the blazing Ensenada sun. For one thing, the tempestuous, now-alcoholic Nina is no longer the winsome flower of Gordon’s memory. For another, the motel’s resident mad playwright, Tony (the antic Hunter Greene), and his creepy idiot-child of a Mexican fishing guide, Mayolo (the hilarious Jonica Patella), have not only been eavesdropping on their neighbors but Tony is appropriating their tryst for a romantic tragedy that uncannily anticipates Gordon and Nina’s every thought and deed. Worse, he has already determined the denouement to be a bloody crime of passion. As the affair careens to its catastrophic conclusion, Zombie Joe’s stylish direction of a crack ensemble on Jeri Batzdorff’s appropriately seedy set leavens Riemer’s grim romantic fatalism with touches of manic absurdity and simmering suspense. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; through June 26. (818) 202-4120.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Starts: June 4. Continues through June 26, 2010

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