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LA Theater Review

Two in a Room

In this world premiere, two one-act plays, written and directed by Caroline Gordon-Elliott, yield varied results. By far the most enjoyable and more solidly constructed of the two is "The High and the Mighty." In this dark comedy, a young couple, Walter (Chris Valenti) and Lisa (Amy Esacove), is waiting for Walter's old college roommate, Rich (Bob Levitan), to arrive for dinner. Walter is a carefree, boyish dreamer; Lisa is a bit uptight in general and particularly uncomfortable with Walter's adoration of his old friend's touted success.

It's been seven years since the boys saw each other and Rich supposedly hit it big. The self-important school chum shows up with his latest squeeze, a flamboyant and foulmouthed but nonetheless quite likable gal, Elaine (Paige Handler). As wine is consumed, Lisa gets less enamored with the gathering. Trysts of the past and flirtations of the evening get a bit intense.

Gordon-Elliott's story is mostly plausible with few exceptions, such as the girls awkwardly leaving the room as old girlfriends to discuss a wine class, or Walter — very amiable but not the sharpest pencil in the box — opting for medical school. Her staging is fine, including the very acceptably cumbersome climbs in and out of the window to the fire escape — a nice New York City touch. The actors' performances, especially Valenti's and Handler's, are first-rate.

"Sunday Alibi," however, is headache-inducing. An egotistical Sebastian (Byrne Offutt, shouting his lines much too loudly for the venue size and too quickly for total comprehension, hence the headache) continually browbeats two women: an emotional Cammie (Victoria Prescott), and Jane (Di Koob), an anorexic, agoraphobic mute. Enter the mailman (Butch Hammett), hero or not? Gordon-Elliott should consider slower pacing and more play on the surreal, S&M aspects that poke out here and there.

Presented by Running Fools Productions at the Elephant Lab, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m. Sep. 14-Oct. 7. (323) 960-7745.

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