Backyard wrestling serves as the departure point for Mickey Birnbaum's funny, frenzied, probing play, Backyard. Teenagers Chuck (Ian Bamberg) and Ray (Adan Rocha) meet in Chuck's backyard to work out a series of fake wrestling matches, for which they plan to charge admission. The boys have adopted cartoon personas and a storyline to accompany their performance. The story becomes increasingly complex as additional characters are introduced, beginning with Chuck's mom, Carrie (Jacqueline Wright), a fierce and tenacious woman caught up in the boys' bellicose fantasy as much as they are themselves. Then Chuck's long-absent father (Hugo Armstrong) makes an unexpected appearance, manipulating his son's loyalty away from his hostile wife. Soon both parents, along with Chuck's tomboyish girlfriend, Lilith (Esmer Kazvinova), are acting out vengeful passions both within and outside the framework of a comic book plot. Birnbaum's gritty script showcases a blue-chip ensemble and brilliant fight choreography (by Ahmed Best) that come together under Larry Biederman's illuminating directorial eye. Nothing is quite so satisfying as theater filled with surprise, and this dark comedy has that, carrying you to places you never thought you'd visit.

Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Fri., July 11, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 12, 8 p.m.; Sun., July 13, 7 p.m. Starts: May 31. Continues through June 27, 2014
(Expired: 07/13/14)

LA Weekly