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LA Theater Review

'Early Decision'

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David T. Levinson's examination of the pressures put on rich kids to get into the best university might not connect with people who have worked their way through a state college. But even those in the audience who identify with this comedy-infused two-act drama probably will not enjoy the script's incessant whining and lack of engaging dialogue. Levinson, who also directs this world premiere, has written primarily for TV and film, and it shows. Almost all of the scenes are a couple of minutes long, a style that is common onscreen, but which is rarely effective onstage. The performances, which range in quality from average to poor, do little to assist the weak script, which makes the production feel much longer than its two hours.

The story's protagonist is Claire (Lara Everly), who in the opening moments decides that the hoops she needs to jump through to get accepted to a good university aren't worth it. She tells her parents-homemaker Linda (Susan Merson) and accountant Phil (Bob Neches)-that she isn't going to college. Linda, who always regretted having to go to the "lowly" University of Massachusetts, refuses to accept Claire's decision. But Phil, who is debating quitting his job to start selling ice cream, sees Claire's point. Claire's elder brother Josh (Brian Chase), who attends Brown and who spends his free time getting high and having sex, returns home to talk sense into his sister.

As the young Claire, Everly seems as if she's reading her lines instead of acting. Her clipped staccato style quickly becomes monotonous, and her emotional outbursts seem rehearsed. Only Merson as Linda delivers a sense of realism, though her frequent stammers become distracting by the final scenes. But even a stronger cast would not be able to liven up this production, in part because the large number of two- and three-minute scenes makes it impossible to get the story's rhythm flowing.

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