The leader-impresario, Harlequin (Andrew Mueller), of a stranded, down-on-its-luck commedia dell’arte troupe meets a wealthy patron who promises them traveling funds if they can improvise a play on a dauntingly large subject: The History of Man. They attempt three episodes: the Garden of Eden, with Tristano (Sarju Patel) as Adam, Isabella (Sarah Yahr Tucker) as Eve, and Scapino (Justin Radford) as the Serpent. Ancient Rome is represented by the death of Caesar, with Pantalone (Jonathan Harrison) as Julius. The Trojan War features the return of Odysseus — played by the blustering Capitan (Marc McHone) — to his suspicious wife, Penelope, portrayed by Columbine (Andrea Pandazedes). Only then do they decide to concentrate on the History of a Man, dramatizing birth, adolescence, marriage and death. Dealing with eternal verities helps the actors heal the resentments and rivalries that threaten their company. Director Joe McClean keeps the action of George Herman’s play lively, but commedia requires a standard of brilliance to rise above the adequate, which describes McClean’s production. Radford is a wonderfully athletic Scapino, but it’s Pandazedes’ knowing, disenchanted Columbine who finds some reality among the hijinks. Wendy Gough Soroka provides handsome commedia masks, and Tchia Casselle supplies colorful costumes. Write Act Repertory Theatre, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6128 Yucca Ave., Hlywd; Thurs.-Sat, 8 p.m., Sun. 5 p.m., thru Aug. 3. (323) 469-3113 or
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: June 26. Continues through Aug. 3, 2008

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