The late playwright Allan Manings was blacklisted and forced to move to Canada. There, he worked on a horse farm till 1961, when he was able to return to Hollywood and forge a successful career in television. So it's not surprising that he should focus on the doings of the House Un-American Activities Committee in this, his final play. Actor-comedian Louis Berns, née Bernstein (Alan Freeman), has reached retirement years, and spends his days with his children, son Scott (Paul Denniston) and bossy but loving daughter, Aimee (Maria Kress), and his lifelong friend and fellow comic, Benjy Gordon (Steve Franken), with whom he plays a daily gin rummy game. For much of Act 1, the play seems to be a gentle, funny Jewish character comedy. But when Scott's journalist friend David (Roy Vongtama) sets out to write a profile of Louie, his research reveals that Louie was called to testify before HUAC in 1951, and named his old friend Benjy, resulting in Benjy's being blacklisted and the destruction of his career. When this information is revealed, catastrophe results. John Gallogly directs a fine cast in a richly nuanced production, with wonderful performances by Freeman and Franken as the two old actors. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard West, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m., thru May 8. (323) 851-7977, theatrewest.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 1. Continues through May 8, 2011
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