Miss Write

There is a little bit of everything in Bruce A. Jacobs' play about conjuring up the perfect woman. Jacobs has wrapped his story around a "what if" that will be recognizable to many folks in tinsel town: What happens when a character, ideal and complete in herself, "takes on a life of her own?" With this log line from writing courses on "creating compelling characters," Jacobs opens up his own nutty world that is full of detours, dance numbers, and one of the corniest jokes this side of vaudeville. A veritable cast of, well, dozens is on hand to bring this idea to fruition.

David G. Robinson is Scott Darwin, a writer who spends more of his time coping with a girlfriend, Janie (Suzanne Kelly), and poker buddies (James Bozian, Rob Terrell, David DeSantos) than attending to his vintage typewriter and the adventures of Roxy Granite (Garrison Burrell), a Special Forces officer with a heart of gold. After having a terminal argument with Janie over a compatibility test, Darwin begins to ponder over the typewriter about a perfect someone. But the women he conjures up have flaws, while a sexy male (Steve Monarque) enters the contest unbidden. Finally, Mia (Angela Espinosa) arrives to fulfill his every wish. The second act brings on a new set of characters: Mia's family. Obediently "taking on a life of her own," Mia has created a Jewish father (Ronald Hunter) and mother (Myra McWethy), plus a mentally challenged younger brother with psychopathic tendencies (Jonathan Chapin). Complications follow complications while Darwin tries in vain to put the genie back into the bottle, but he manages only to complicate his life further, and, as they say, hilarity ensues.

This group's last success was a series of company written one-acts, so Jacobs' original work seems a step in the evolution with two related one-acts tied together. While the first act is an often funny preamble to the second, Mia's family is the heart of the piece. Brilliantly rendered by Hunter, McWethy, and Chapin, the family is any son-in-law's nightmare. As Mia, Espinosa transitions well from accommodating housemate to a woman finding her own voice. Kelly and Burrell provide solid performances. The poker buddies are versatile comedians, with DeSantos a standout as the periodontist. The sample women (Doreen Zetterlund, Amia Dane, and Victoria Thornhill) also play a number of other roles with style.

Robinson has an affecting, sad-sack demeanor that fits the character of Darwin, but as a director he has let himself down and allowed himself to overindulge in significant moments of transition from one beat to another. This same split of attention may be responsible for the indeterminate pauses and muddy meanderings of others in the cast. There is one neat touch, though, when Mia enters the action by breaking the fourth wall, carefully negotiating the magic divide between "us" and "them."