Dreams of the Washer King

Dangerous is the play that marries a supernatural bent with a nonlinear narrative: With story lines leaping back and forth in time, adding a spectral element blurs the line of reality even further, and risks confusing an audience whose brains are already working overtime. Although that seemed to be the case on the opening night of Christopher Wall's West Coast premiere, his gamble almost works. Teenage Ryan (Aaron Shand), obsessed with catching a trace of his deceased father on tape, and his emotionally broken bank-teller mother (Ann Hearn) eke out an existence in a tiny Maine town until the unsettling Wade (Dirk Etchison) and his daughter (Jennifer Levinson) move in next door. Wall begins dropping hints as to his master plan in the first scene, tantalizing bits that hook you in and keep you curious through intermission. The problem, however, is the second half shies away from the shocking reveal that closes the first act, and what was an unusual and interesting buildup falls flat in a series of messy scenes that stop and start jerkily. Unfortunately, Wall and director Andre Barron didn't consider the limitations of the theater — this would play out more gracefully on-screen. Still, there's promise here, especially with a reworking of the second act and a more tightly defined identity. Theatre 40, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Feb. 26. (310) 364-0535, theatre40.org.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 26. Continues through Feb. 26, 2012

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Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater

241 Moreno
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

310-364-0535

www.theatre40.org