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LA Theater Review

She Always Told Me

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Actor-playwright Annie Mebane has written 12 vignettes for herself and three performers on the wide-ranging subject of "the societal role of women in American culture." The results are rather wide-ranging, as well. Mebane has the ability to charm, as with her own well-constructed monologue of a brilliant high school student on prom night, laying out the social and political ramifications before agreeing to lose her virginity. But Mebane's acting is unsteady, often inaudible, and the same applies to Jen Zaborowski, whose poor diction is exacerbated by a slight lisp.

Anne Gregory makes the most of some of the less impressive roles written by Mebane, including a nice comedic turn as a shopping-obsessed youth. Rebecca Johnson displays laboriousness in lieu of gravitas as a woman in church who asks God's forgiveness for the affair she has no intention of ending. But it all comes together for text and performer, in the final monologue. Here, Johnson plays a cheerfully robotic 1950s housewife, who seems blissful at the idea of making meatloaf and cleaning house. But when it is revealed that her appearance is defined by sexual politics, the piece blossoms into a smart and funny commentary on women who stop at nothing to please their men.

Mebane's hit-or-miss writing is generally aided by director Todd Proto, who keeps the procession of props and actors moving. He does not, however, make sure that the voices of these women reach the audience at all times in the Fake Gallery, a combination gallery-performance space that currently sports a very amusing collection of whimsical works of art. Alas, the art is more consistently entertaining than the show, although Mebane, as a writer, less so as an actor, shows she has the touch in some of the pieces on exhibit.

Presented by Little Ventures Productions at the Fake Gallery, 4319 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. Sat. 8 p.m. Mar. 25-May 27. Also at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Jun. 23-Jul. 8. (323) 960.1053.

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