Searching for meaning is often something of an impossibility for those of us who choose to live in Los Angeles, a city notorious for sucking the life out of its environmentally placated citizenry. In Cody Henderson's modern urban quagmire of a play, two friends have a devil of a time sorting it all out—and this playwright doesn't give them much help in achieving cathartic resolution. This isn't to say Henderson's voice isn't one of the most promising; quite the contrary, he tells it straight, exploring the frustrations and confusions of trying to make it through the mire of the 21st century in our majestically heartless reclaimed desert.
Kerri (Alina Phelan) is a special ed teacher who should be thrilled with her meaningful job and adoring boyfriend (Jon Beauregard), but her pervading wanderlust eventually sends her walking high into the mountains to escape her overpoweringly conflicted emotions. Her devoted friend Cynthia (Lauren Letherer) is simultaneously moving in the opposite direction, warily realizing the guy she's shagging (Darrett Sanders) might be the one to cure her vacuous program of promiscuity. As these loyal girlfriends crash into divergent lifestyle changes, their relationship begins to unravel, exposing how frighteningly little it meant beyond comfort and security. These four exceptional actors soulfully interpret Henderson's sharp contemporary dialogue, with Seth Bates emerging briefly to drive Kerri home from Angeles Crest. Bates proves inspired casting—except, as affectively as he concentrates on his passenger's plight, he shouldn't forget to keep his eyes on the road and take in whatever is beyond the windshield on the other side of the fourth wall.
As talky as this play is, Albert Dayan's direction is surprisingly fast-paced and visually arresting, especially augmented by Barbara Lempel's whimsical set design. Using discarded junk—the perforations in the back of old computers stack to become high-rise windows, Christmas tree lights strung through the lighting instruments evoke the night sky, and a scene becomes Lake Arrowhead by pulling across a canvas backdrop with childlike outlines of trees cut into it—Lempel's imaginative constructions emerge as an equal partner in the storytelling.
"Pacific Daylight," presented by Lion's Share Productions at Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Jul. 2-Aug. 6. $18. (323) 856-8611.