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at the Elephant Theatre

ne-act plays are a very specific art form, not simply a detruncated play. Each play must be specific and complete in its own way, and if theatremakers stack them on one bill, the absence of an overall theme can make them just fragments of overheard conversation, incomplete and random. Here each one-act takes place in a different environment, and no attempt has been made to create a general, practical, economically feasible setup, which results in a 10- to 15-minute play requiring a 20-minute setup. Moving a heavy desk onto the stage, which requires taking a heavy couch out of the way first, then carefully loading the desk with several desktop accoutrements that have no relevance to the story, or placing and replacing bottles on a bar so their labels face the audience, indicates a lack of production savvy.

"That Dress" by Steve Strangio—directed by Dale Marks, with Brandon Hirsh, Nalita Sebring, and Eric Patton—seems to be about a triangle that has been ruined by the death of the woman, Karen. We gathered that Karen was dead, not least because we could hardly hear a word she said. When will Hollywood actors learn that projection is the better half of acting? This opener hardly rang true because there was so little passion in it.

"American Interlude," by Scott Brooks, directed by Noah Suchoff, which required the intricate bar setup, was sexy bar talk in which two strangers enact a whole life, from meeting and marriage, children through divorce, during the time it takes for their partners to make it back from the restrooms. Or maybe it was a what-might-have-been sequence. Claire Bernard and Jason Fitzpatrick are sprightly and spirited actors, but there are so many pregnant pauses and dropped voices that, again, we are left with only half the story.

"Out of Uniform," by Ethan Kanfer, directed by Patrick Gaynard, diagrams the crush of a young student (played by Elisabeth Hayward Brown) for her English teacher (played by Allison Evans). Brown has moments of realism, but Evans, who looks the part, can hardly be heard.

"Ice Cream Social," by Jamie Becker, directed by David Scheinbaun, is a deliberately nasty little piece, with an opening (and closing line), and several in between, that should not be quoted in polite print. Allison Gordon is the ex-teen queen of Wichita, whose Valley girl vulgarity is a screen for her loneliness. Jarred Diglio is effective as the ice cream–shop owner, who can give as much as he gets. Johnny Giordano and Eugenia Care bookend the play with a reversal of the first scene.

Presented by Rockland Productions at the Elephant Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. In repertory nightly 8 p.m., Aug. 17-27. (7 p.m. only Aug. 20 & 27.) (818) 939-0819.

Reviewed by Madeleine Shaner

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