There isn't a great deal of new ground trod in Zoe Kazan's world premiere play Trudy and Max in Love at South Coast Rep. Relationships are difficult. Love is complicated. People attempting to find their place in the world are ill-equipped to do so with another person seeking the same.
But that doesn't mean Kazan's play is generic. The actress-writer who penned and starred in the 2012 indie-favorite film Ruby Sparks tells the story of a 20-something married woman who meets an older bachelor who's a fellow novelist. Kazan supplies sparkling dialogue and well-developed characters in her intelligent if a bit-too-breathy-at-times exploration of urban romance today. While the end result isn't exactly revelatory or groundbreaking, it's difficult to walk away without wrestling with one's own issues, history and choices waged upon the eternal battleground of human connection.
Graced by emotionally resonant performances from Aya Cash (Trudy) and Michael Weston (Max) in the lead roles, and a streamlined production courtesy of director Lila Neugebauer, this is a funny and poignant play that works best when it rises above its brain and concentrates on heart. Characters who know themselves too well – both their attributes and their flaws – can be a drain, but when the talking is subordinate to the feelings, Kazan's script powerfully shines.
Trudy and Max in Love by Zoe Kazan. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Through Jan. 26. (714) 708-5555, scr.org.
Public Spectacle, L.A. Weekly's arts & culture blog, on Facebook and Twitter: