Half of Plenty

Half of Plenty

Anyone still trying to trace the roots of the great economic collapse of 2007 can stop digging. Playwright Lisa Dillman's somewhat schematic satire argues that the monetary debacle responsible for crippling the markets and the existential paralysis gripping her suburbanite protagonists were both spawned by a common corruption of spirit rather than of finance. In fact, the instability that drives Marty Tindall (John Pollono) and his wife, Holly (Carolyn Palmer), to regroup in the ironically named Ardor Park housing development (and postpone having a child) has more to do with Marty's recent bout of alcoholism and his downwardly mobile new job at the local box factory. Complicating their effort to rebuild their lives — and marriage — is Marty's Alzheimer's-afflicted father, Jack (Robert Mandan), whose presence forces Holly to be both caregiver and co-breadwinner by taking on medical-transcription work. The crisis comes when Holly seeks solace in a romantic correspondence via transcription tape with an unseen albeit married doctor/client while Marty joins the quasi-terrorist "Neighborhood Vigil," enforcing anti-immigrant, tract etiquette alongside the cell's creepily charismatic Zooks (the very funny Ron Bottitta and Betsy Zajko). Although a feebly bathetic denouement ultimately suggests Dillman is more interested in the exposition of theme over character, Barbara Kallir's crisp direction of a spot-on cast, aided by the polished support of a fine design team (particularly Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's trompe l'oeil set paintings), ably fills the gaps with laughs. Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; www.roguemachinetheatre.com. (323) 960-7774. A Rogue Machine production.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: May 22. Continues through June 27, 2009