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Falling Upward

Ray Bradbury is better known for his formidable achievements in the arena of science-fiction, but he’s also penned a number of plays, including this charming, comedic fable about the denizens of a tavern in rural Ireland. Heeber Finn’s pub is the setting, where a raucous, fun-loving band of Irishmen gather to spin yarns, dance jigs, play music, sing and, of course, “wash their tonsils.” As the play opens, the fellows sing a charming medley of Irish songs while bending elbows under the watchful eye of Finn (Mik Scriba). The music and singing are what give this play its strange magic. Nothing happens in the way of a plot. Garrity (the masterful Pat Harrington) acts as narrator and guide of sorts, the men share a hilarious moment at the gravesite of a wine merchant, where, after toasting the deceased, they piss on his marker, and there is a minor fuss after a traffic accident. A strange contingent of tourists arrives in Act 2, which causes some soul searching. You might say that the playwright wins the pot with a flat hand here. The music is superb; Jeff G. Rack’s tavern set is artfully crafted, and director Tim Byron Owen creates an atmospheric charm that’s irresistible. El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through April 5. (818) 508-4200.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Feb. 28. Continues through April 5, 2009


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