Anticipating a reunion with her married former childhood sweetheart, Irene (1955 Miss America and Barnaby Jones actress Lee Meriwether) enlists daughter Shelby (Corinne Shor) to ferry her to the family's lakeside cabin, Carranor. The septuagenarian divorcee dreads Chet (Don Moss) will break off their budding emotional affair, while her righteous offspring bristles at a presumed seduction that could leave her mother bereft. Reality, it turns out, proffers a more complicated synthesis. Meriwether's performance offers the best reason to see this production: Her stately grace brings dignity to a portrayal that feels both effortless and fully realized. As her conflicted paramour, Moss has the tougher battle but achieves a remarkable degree of sympathy. The staging's major flaw is the unerringly wrong-footed Shelby, who alienates even her husband with her grating presence and relentless harping. Ultimately the hard-working but miscast Shor can't salvage the character from its structural problems: Shelby is supposed to be a dogmatic liberal, but her particular brand of rigidity plays as distinctly more red-state. Yet the narrative resists simplistic moralizing, and for a certain theatergoer may offer a refreshing take on life's final analysis. John Gallogly's direction trades the saccharine for the bittersweet, while Jeff Rack's cozy set complements the December courtship. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Sept. 29. (323) 851-7977,

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 23. Continues through Sept. 29, 2013

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