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LA Theater Review

Shrinks

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In the world premiere of writer-director Maria E. Jenson's seemingly endless "satirical comedy"--nearly two-and-a-half hours, not counting intermission--we have battling live-ins, Harry (Christopher Grossett) and Greta (Julianna Robinson), trying to make sense of their relationship. Each thirtysomething has a personal psychiatric quack. Harry's quack, Dr. Ludevine Shredder (Sarah Lilly), is little more than a pill pusher with all the terminologies necessary for hanging out a shingle. Greta's quack, Dr. Herbert Shredder (Lorin McCraley), is a holistic hippie throwback using therapies of screaming, hugging, standing in a kitty-litter box of sand, and abusing a dummy. The shrinks are mother and son.

Despite an opening-night audience of friends beside themselves with laughter, there's only about a dozen funny lines in the show. Unfortunately, Jenson's promising premise gets smothered in a gush of rapid-fire psychobabble, and after a while, it's just babble. The carnival metaphor and the children-lost-in-the-woods idea mentioned in the program just don't translate from the page to the stage. With due respect, the script is in serious need of a doctor--at the very least, an hour of trimming. Jenson's direction is thankfully brisk. With the exception of notables Patrick O'Sullivan and Erika Winters in minor roles, the acting is uneven at best and the attempts at humor, forced.

The revolving stage with three mediocre sets (Kevan Jenson) would be more effective if there were partial indications of walls to hide the two sets not being used. On the plus side, a dramatically inappropriate dance dream-sequence with the entire cast, totally out of the style of the play, works surprisingly and wonderfully well (choreographer Cindera Che, composer Ron Arnold).

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