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LA Theater Review

Square One

In the wake of swirling public dismay over the current administration's penchant for keeping track of citizens' personal lives without approval, Steve Tesich's 1990 comic political satire resonates. With selected pronouncements by George W. Bush added as voiceovers, the absurdist nature of the story hits the mark.

Adam (Alan Bruce Becker) is a state artist third-class. His Patriotic Variety Hour, designed to make people feel happy, is billed as societally concerned. However, tap-dancing and singing to "I've Got the Sun in the Morning" belies any substantive political commentary. He is a perfect foil for an Orwellian world. One day he meets Diane (Lisa Cole), asks her to dance, and proposes. He offers her a second key to his one-and-a-half-room apartment. She claims no one has ever asked her to be a live-in wife before. She shares her living space with many old people who scream in anguish as they watch this new world television, making his offer appealing. She says they have nothing in common, so everything should be perfect.

As the marriage progresses, Adam is perpetually pleasant. Diane doesn't want to bring a baby into this world, but she soon produces one. Lack of communication and separate ambitions cause the dissolution of their marriage. When they meet again later, Adam has been promoted to state artist second-class, but their generic responses to each other are perhaps the most frightening aspect of the play. Director-actor Becker handles the futuristic world with a light touch. Cole's comic timing is a good match for Becker's genial cipher. While many of her responses are nonsensical, she delivers them with a shrewd frustration.

Too many lengthy scene changes detract from the flow of the story. Though costume changes signify the passage of time, they might not be necessary with a savvy audience. Comedy trumps misfortune during the show, but its message provides the audience with provocative afterthoughts.

Presented by Insight America Touring Theater at Company of Angels, 2106 Hyperion Ave., L.A. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m. Jan. 20-Feb. 26. (323) 960-7784.

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