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LA Theater Review

States of Mind

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Taking an absurdist look at solving the Middle East problem, playwright Yale Udoff brings together for a clandestine meeting a super-top-secret group-including representatives from the church, the military, the White House, and the press. Solution: resettle Israel in Nebraska. This makes one wonder what in real life goes on behind those closed-door meetings.

Nebraska is the first of two one-acts under the umbrella title States of Mind.

Here, director Al Bonadies assembles a varied cast, including a trio of superb, seasoned character actors--Jack Heller, Matt Kimbrough, and Abbott Alexander--who, along with Scott Mitchell Nelson, keep the play's dark comedy at peak pitch. These pros don't play for laughs; they play the reality, which is of course where the humor comes from. Udoff's clever premise and on-target political jargon is at once funny and terrifying. The play's end could use a bit of tightening and perhaps a trim, however.

In The Little Gentleman, also surreal and darkly comedic, we meet cute-as-a-button 2-year-old Ronald (an adult Tom O'Keefe)-who speaks perfect English, with an English accent. His mother (Kara Pulcino) is more concerned with gifts from her husband and battling with her mother (Jacqueline Scott) about her own upbringing than with realizing that her child needs special attention. Aunt Sylvia (Louise Davis) arrives, adding to the dysfunction and giving Ronald a good look at the sad family he's been born into. Udoff places family values under a spotlight for all to try to recognize. Despite the style, it is very easy to get absorbed in the piece's drama. Bonadies does nice work in keeping everything in balance. Though all in the cast have their moments, O'Keefe is terrific throughout.

Presented by the Laurelgrove Theatre Company at the Hollywood Court Theatre, 6717 Franklin Ave., L.A. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. Nov. 5-Dec. 18. (323) 692-8200.

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