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Marnie Olson plays voluptuous Carma in her play (co-written with director Caroline Marshall) about a female sex addict trying to fathom the depths of her self-destructive compulsions, and whether they're part of some desire for, or resistance to, intimacy. She relishes her power over men, she explains to her skeptical therapist (Elisabeth Blake, who also turns in an affecting cameo as the understandably troubled, newly pregnant wife of Carma's musician boyfriend, Rocky (Tui Ho Chee). The production straddles the line between comedic drama and soap opera, but it's salvaged largely by the delicate performances of the entire ensemble, the truthfulness of which passes the severe test of playing in a venue the size of a living room. Excellent portrayals also include Michael Patrick McCaffrey's petty thief/”recovering” coke addict/new-age bookstore clerk, clearly missing some major brain circuitry, and Suzie Kane's Gypsy card reader, Wanda — “Money up front, in the Buddha please.” Though Olson and Marshall's script hovers dangerously close to being trite, it avoids that plunge with the buoyancy of its intelligence and humor. As an actor, Olson probes the crisis of her intimacies and loneliness with such a deft mixture of deflective mockery and inner torment, her struggles take on the universal qualities of a culture plagued by addictions and despair. The larger question — why are we all so alone? — comes blazing from the stage with blanching heat, and that temperature is this comedy's higher purpose.

Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: July 12. Continues through Aug. 23, 2008

LA Weekly