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Asses and Elephants

Playwright Suzanne Bressler's sweet but unevenly executed romantic comedy offers an election year twist on all themes Romeo and Juliet, in which politics makes for strange bedfellows – or, more accurately, it threatens to prevent the bedfellows from getting to bed. On Election Day 2004, likable young slacker Jake (Brian Kelly), a devoted liberal, decides to throw a house party to celebrate the Dems' almost certain victory – and he invites Ruby (Kristen Pate), the cute former high school classmate he runs into at a local restaurant. Ruby shows up to the party – but Jake quickly discovers to his horror that she's a proud Republican with conservative opinions on government bailouts, the Second Amendment, and the War in Iraq. Notwithstanding this, Jake hopes to win the lovely girl by pretending to be right-wing, and thereby enraging his pals. Complications ensue when the presidential race takes its abrupt historical turn, forcing Jake to choose between love and politics. Bressler's comedy boats a genuinely appealing premise for a breakneck romantic farce – and the work cleverly touches on the idea that our times are so politically polarized, it's hard for love to flourish between people of dissenting opinions. However, the dialogue is top heavy with uninspired gags and banal exchanges, and the play flounders through an inert mid-section. Still, director Elina DeSantos assembles an attractive and energetic ensemble and crafts a production that boasts a variety of intriguing psychological insights. Kelly offers a cleverly nuanced turn as a character consumed by his own self loathing, as he compromises his beliefs for romance, while Pate's Republican beauty is believably sincere.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Mon., Nov. 3, 8 p.m. Starts: Oct. 4. Continues through Nov. 2, 2008

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