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LA Theater Review

Saving the World

The best that can be said about this highly implausible play by Carey Dunn, who also directs, is that it is, mercifully, only an hour long. Billed as a "dark comedy," the work is neither comedic nor genuinely dark, and there is not one shred of truthful observation at its core. From its poorly established premise to its arbitrary conclusion, the production never gets off the ground.

The story concerns Jessica (Morgan Star), a peace activist who lives on a trust fund. She has the preposterous idea, which she promotes over the Internet, that if everyone converts to all the religions that exist, there will be no more reason for war, apparently ignorant of the concept that wars are not always religious conflicts but are often waged over economic or territorial disputes. Because no good deed goes unpunished, she is taken hostage by a war-mongering, publicity-hungry stalker (Dunn), who poses as a Jehovah's Witness before attempting to force Jessica and her friends to drink a brew of rat poison and punch. There is no method to this character's madness, and so his appearance seems totally manufactured. It is hard to fathom just what the playwright intends to say through this contrived and rather juvenile series of events that culminate in a naively optimistic resolution.

Most of the actors either cavort about the stage, indicating their emotions instead of attempting to inhabit their characters, shallow as these may be, or go through the proceedings in a seemingly comatose state. The only semblance of professionalism on stage is, interestingly, exhibited by Dunn as the stalker.

There is a moment in the play when one character tells another that she dresses like a bad community-theatre actress. The designation "bad community theatre" accurately describes the entire evening.

Presented by Tiffiny Alden at the Gardner Stages,

1501 N. Gardner St., L.A.

Fri.-Sat. 8 & 9:30 p.m. Jan. 11-26.

(310) 877-3105.

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