Fifteen years ago at the Complex Theater in Hollywood, Richard Brunner (Richard Scofield) and Kate West (Gia McGinley) performed as Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare's play a slice of fictitious history invented by playwright Stephen Antczak. And now they've returned as the leading players in different production of the same play, but "with a happy ending." Richard has gone on to be a movie star and alcoholic; Kate, to flounder. A freelance gossip columnist (Franny Cline) for Entertainment Weekly haunts Richard through rehearsals, but not in the same way as Romeo's Ghost (Ben Jones) a phantom conjured from the lingering memory of Richard's dazzling performance of yore, and a presence intended to throw into counterrelief the clash between emotional and physical realities. That provocative conceit might have stood a chance in a production with even a hint of animation, but Scofield and Jones have such a feeble stage presence, and such hollow voices, that how Richard ever pulled off a forceful Romeo, or became a movie star, emerges as the play's greatest mystery. Director Michael Holmes compounds the matter with sluggish pacing that compromises those jokes on gossip columnists and actors' vanity that somehow bubble up through the tar. McGinley is fine, as is Maxwell Brooks as the producer. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Jan. 19. Continues through March 9, 2008
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