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LA Theater Review

Rose Cottages

This West Coast premiere was written by Bill Bozzone in the late 1980s. Like the mullet, some things from that decade are best left as distant memories. The foul-mouthed Rose, who runs slovenly rental cottages in Orlando and who has no particular appeal of her own, manages to turn drop-ins into family in this puzzler of a production.

Rose (Earnestine Phillips) is lounging on the premises when, as happens in plays, an inspector (Kabin Thomas on the night reviewed) arrives at the same time as a precocious 14-year-old (Graco Hernandez) presents himself at Rose's doorstep, offering to work for food. The inspector puts Rose Cottages on 72-hour probation, just enough time for the events of the play to unfold. Fortuitously, three vacationers arrive from New Jersey and rent a room: a newlywed couple (Aaron Hendry and Brynn Ann Kerin) and the groom's mother (Ellen Geer). Ma likes it here, even though it's not Miami, and she'd love to get an "a-pahhht-ment" here with room for all three of them. The couple, however, plans to ditch poor Ma.

As mama Jesse, Geer has a few moments of lazy acting—for instance not seeing the view from the cottages when supposedly looking—but, for the most part, she is pitch-perfect. Jesse is supposedly losing her mind, suggested to be as a result of her widowhood but also due to plot-point calamities. Geer turns ditz into charm, abandonment into a badge of honor.

Director Heidi Helen Davis doesn't help prod the evening along. Visual gaffes (characters should see each other and don't, Rose over-obsessively wipes the arms of a chair) spoil any momentum Geer tries to build. But Davis has done well with Hernandez, who at age 14 shows a solid sense of comedy.

Presented by and at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. July 30-Oct. 2. Repertory schedule. (310) 455-3723.

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