Kate Robin's play begins like a Hollywood romantic comedy, complete with a meet cute: Pet psychotherapist Allison (Kit Pongetti) arrives at the apartment of Trip (Blayne Weaver) to treat his traumatized cat, but by the end of the evening Allison and Trip are tumbling into bed. After their initial torrid encounter, Trip is afflicted with impotence, and we're in for a sharp examination of the sexual hang-ups of our times. Trip tries to blame Allison, claiming she doesn't turn him on, but she, a natural-born Miss Fixit, insists the problem is his and pressures him to join a men's therapy group. He, in turn, urges her to join a women's recovery group.
Meanwhile, Trip's parents — Rachelle (Alison Martin) and Bert (Larry Joshua) — also have serious problems. Rachelle is tortured by Bert's reckless infidelities, which gradually lead him to pursue younger women, sex in public places, stalking, and voyeurism. The end comes for her when she discovers him — stark naked and sporting an aggressive erection (a new landmark in graphic onstage sexual imagery) — spying on the young woman next door. Things go from bad to worse when Allison tries to play therapist with Rachelle; and Allison, too, will get her comeuppance.
Scenes involving the couples alternate with pithy two- to five-minute monologues by the women in Allison's recovery group (Shawna Casey, Jeanne Syquia, Ginette Rhodes, Loreni Delgado, Aloma Wright, Sigute Miller, Sarah Hudson, Jacqueline Wright, Nancy Bell, and Misi L. Lecube at the performance reviewed, but the women are double-cast). They discuss their problems with men, themselves, and society at large, embracing topics from child-molesting husbands, infidelity, and sexual inequality to unrealistic media-fostered standards of beauty. Robin's writing is clever and provocative, but she provides us with 14 radically different points of view, leaving us in the dark about her own.
Director Chris Fields has assembled a top-notch cast throughout. Pongetti and Weaver subtly segue from the early comic banter to growing sexual anguish and insecurity, while Martin and Joshua play out the more grinding blue-collar version of dysfunction, and the 10 other women are terrific. Mina Kinukawa provides the huge and lavish set.
Presented by the Echo Theater Company at Stage 52, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Oct. 12-Nov. 11. (800) 413-8669. www.echotheatercompany.com.