Regional Reviews: Los Angeles
Couples, Scruples and Marbles
Also see Sharon's recent review of Anyone Can Whistle
Blue Sphere Alliance at the Lex is presenting a one-act festival, encompassing ten one-act plays over three nights, entitled Couples, Scruples and Marbles. I attended the second night, Scruples, which was, as one might expect with world premiere one-acts, a mixed bag.
The first play, Mailroom, is a Hollywood fairy tale. The story of a motivated young man who talks his way into the "agent trainee program" (read: mailroom) at a talent agency and his ultimate ascension is pretty predictable. Obviously, the actual plot is not meant to come as a surprise to anyone (take a guess - do you think he ends up with the unapproachable beautiful woman who keeps shutting him down before he can get a word in?), but the fun is supposed to be in the journey. On that count, Mailroom can't be called a roaring success. It certainly has moments. Some of its better bits include the snappy one-liners the beautiful woman keeps coming up with, some better than average slams at the film industry and some self-mocking fairy tale references. But, on the whole, it is a predictable exercise with fairly routine jokes.
The second play, The Sticking Place, is pretty much filler. Taking place backstage before a theatrical opening, it concerns a man and a woman about to go onstage in what is clearly a Shakespearean play. We know this from the period costumes they are putting on. (The play's one laugh: the man "stuffs.") The two are having a discussion - the woman wants the man to do something nasty that will ultimately destroy another man's career. He is uncertain; she begs, she wheedles, she uses her womanly wiles. At some point, the audience recognizes her as a pale copy of a well-known Shakespearean character. As this is apparently the "twist" to this play, it is imperative that the play end before this thought crosses the audience's mind. It does not. As a result, when the play finally does end, it is with a whimper, not a bang.
Bye Gones unfolds beautifully, telling the sisters' story not only through standard dialogue but also subtext and flashback. The sisters' relationship is suggested through the way they talk to each other. One asks about the other's family; the other can't remember the name of the first's boyfriend. Little offhand digs at each other speak volumes until the characters ultimately reveal the secrets of their past and their hearts. Bye Gones is definitely a "chick" play, complete with tear-jerking. But it is beautifully constructed and solidly performed. It certainly makes Scruples worth the trip.
Couples, Scruples and Marbles runs through March 6 at Blue Sphere Alliance at the Lex. Call (323) 957-5782 for performance schedule and tickets.
Blue Sphere Alliance & Anthony Barnao, Artistic Director, present the world premiere of Couples, Scruples and Marbles. Lighting Designer Cris Capp; Sound Designer Ryan Crosby.
The Sticking Place
Photo by Molly Fitzjarrald