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LA Theater Review

Amy and Elliot

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Yes, the first five minutes of this 1990s relationship dramedy by Ryan Eggold (an actor on TV's "90210") is loaded with forced exposition and sitcom dialogue. But, gradually, the pace relaxes, and the subtle charm of the characters—thanks greatly to a strong acting ensemble—comes to light. Perhaps the story isn't new, but by not overreaching for a profound statement, or pushing the broader comedic elements, "Amy and Elliot" settles into a pleasant, at times quite funny, two-hour distraction.

Eggold serves as playwright, director, star, and producer—and in this case, he handles each position skillfully. The part he has written for himself is Elliot, a slacker with an anonymous dead-end job and a ratty apartment adorned with rock posters, Cap'n Crunch cereal boxes, and his trusty guitar. His one issue is that his best platonic friend Amy (Alexandra Breckenridge) is about to get married to Michael (Robert Baker). Elliot doesn't know if he is against the marriage because he is falling for Amy, or he is scared that his world will change, or, as he tells Amy, perhaps Michael is the wrong guy for her. Regardless of his motives, Michael's influence may ruin things for everyone. The fourth character, Jolene (Gillian Zinser, also on "90210"), is another potential love interest for Elliot.

Except for the opening scene and an out-there second-act plot twist, Eggold's script relies mostly on realistic issues facing 20-somethings navigating adulthood. Elliot is both likable and frustrating, which Eggold conveys through his laid-back performance. Breckenridge ably handles the wishy-washy Amy, gradually adding layers of confusion so the bride-to-be's actions seem motivated. And Baker's formal portrayal as a strait-laced doctor provides some laughs as Michael's life takes unexpected turns.

As director, Eggold maintains an even pace, and he keeps his cast on the same emotional page, resulting in a steady stream of gentle humor.

Presented by and at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.
Jan. 7–30. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (323) 960-7863. www.plays411.com/amyandelliot.

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