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LA Theater Review

Sorry, We're Closed

Cody Goulder's play is a slow-moving slice-of-life set in a shabby bar in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, which serves as a social club and home away from home for owner and proprietor Charlie Singer (Daniel Armas); his waitress and girl Friday, Grace (Kimi Buser); and their regular customers. These include pugnacious Mickey (Dan Sykes), who competes with Frankie (playwright Goulder) for the attentions of Erin (Marisa Rojas); the bitter Scott (Liam Toner), who seems intent on drinking himself to death after the failure of his marriage; and the bar's oldest customer, Herman (Matt Calloway). Pretty Jody (Christina MacKinnon) comes to the bar to meet her unknown secret admirer, but when he fails to show up, she takes up with Scott.

But the bar has been edging toward failure, due to a faltering economy and lackadaisical management, and Charlie must face the fact that he must relinquish his establishment to a svelte, ruthless real estate mogul (Dawn Burdue), who has been buying up local businesses. Charlie and his regulars will lose their gathering place and, in essence, their way of life. So they gather for one final evening together before the place shuts down for good.

The tone of the piece is elegiac, which would be fine except that most of the characters seem to have given up before the piece begins. Charlie regrets losing his bar, but he doesn't fight to hold on to it. Jody's secret admirer (Michael Hoag) is so diffident and lacking in confidence that he can't even show up for their assignation. There are a couple of fistfights (offstage) and a few other superficial conflicts, but we're not given much to care about. Perhaps Goulder was unwise in choosing to direct his play and act in it: There was no outside eye to judge the proceedings.

Armas' Charlie is convincingly weary and resigned, but there's nothing in his performance to galvanize our interest. Buser effectively suggests Grace's rock-solid loyalty, Sykes provides a dynamic image as the ever-ready-to-fight Mickey, and Toner effectively captures Scott's fickleness.

Presented by the Fresh Baked Theatre Company at the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Hollywood. Aug. 1430. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (602) 689-7714.

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