Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Victor Lodato's 3F, 4F
The drama purports to be a study of repressed desires and buried secrets on the part of four inhabitants in apartments 3F and 4F in an Eastern city in the United States. The lower flat is occupied by 60ish Alfred (Edward Sarafian) and 60ish Myrna (Wanda McCaddon) who have been married for thirty two years. Alfred is a stiff-upper-lip English ex-military man one would see in those J. Arthur Rank films of the '40s and '50s. Myrna also has a slight English accent and a Maggie Smith quality about her. The couple has lived in the apartment thirty-two years and still maintain their essential "English-ness". Everything is neatly in place in the immaculate apartment. The opening scenes are pure Edward Albee with crisp conversations about mundane things going on in the building. However, both have subdued wishes and hidden secrets.
Two "acid head" young men move into the flat above the elderly couple. They love loud heavy-metal music and seem to have an unlimited supply of drugs. Murph (Daniel Talbott) is having problems with anger management and his sexuality. Kurt (Ian Scott McGregor) is a confused young druggie who is very naïve about his love life. The apartment is a mess with furniture that looks like it came from Goodwill Industries. There are posters of drug culture artists on the walls. Kurt is falling for what sounds like an elaborate con game by Khula (Cassie Beck) where he will be transported to a "Land of Love" (all you need is $5000 to be admitted).
3F, 4F's scenes smoothly bounce back and forth on the amazing two level set. 4F is directly above 3F with exactly the same floor plan although the furnishings and decorations are extremely different. These worlds collide in a shocking first act ending. The second act contains wonderfully written confrontations among all four characters on the playwright's main theme of love. Khula addresses the audience on "Live for Love," which seems to be completely out of place. The playwright apparently believes the audience is not getting the message that this play is all about love.
3F, 4F director Pam MacKinnon has assembled five amazing actors for this two hour play, with one intermission. Edward Sarafian is astonishing. His English accent gives a brittle substance to his speech as he tries to remember the past. It's a striking performance. Wanda McCaddon is a perfect foil as Myrna with her sarcastic and very hilarious zingers.
Daniel Talbott as the confused and anger-driven Murph is a living dynamo, especially in his second act confrontation with his buddy Kurt, played with a wonderful immature quality by Ian Scott McGregor. Rounding out the cast is Cassie Beck, who plays a mysterious sexy young woman who lives across the street and loves to show her breasts to Myrna. Her character has not been developed by the playwright and she seems out of place in this drama. Although she performs the diatribe on love well, it still seems out of place.
3F, 4F will be playing in repertoire with The Rules of Charity and The Black Eyed through June 19 at the Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-441-8822 or visit www.magictheatre.org.