Mammals

Persuasive performances under John Pleshette's skillful direction lend humor and heft to this dark comedy by first-time British playwright Amelia Bluemore. Sporting shades of Alan Ayckbourn, the play concerns a married couple, Jane (Bess Meyer) and Kev (Adrian Neil), who discover disturbing facts about each other's taken-for-granted fidelity. Dealing with these hurtful revelations becomes complicated by the demanding presence of their two willful daughters, 4-year-old Jess and 6-year-old Betty (played by adult performers Phoebe James and Abigail Revasch), and by their weekend guests, Kev's old friend Phil (David Corbett) and his narcissistic girlfriend, Lorna (Stephanie Ittleson). The play takes a while to get going by virtue of an unnecessarily lengthy scene showing the frazzled Jane struggling to cope with the bratty kids. While no reflection on the performers, the casting of adults as children — meant to convey the breadth of a child's presence in people's lives — is a device that soon wears thin. But once the arena shifts to grown-up turf, the piece is more involving, in large part due to the performers' adept and nuanced work. Of particular note are Meyer, unfailingly on the mark as an intelligent but harried homemaker; Neil, as a man twitching timorously on the verge of an affair; and Corbett, as his blithe, roll-with-the-punches pal. Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., Hollywood; Fri-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. thru March 8. (800) 595-4849. Note: Roles alternate.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Jan. 16. Continues through April 5, 2009


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