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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Celik Kayalar’s Couch is
Over the Top in Zaniness

Also see Richard's reviews of Force of Nature and Dog Act

Celik Kayalar is a well known actor and teacher in the Bay Area who has been teaching at the Jean Shelton Actor’s Lab for several years. In Mr. Kayalar's Couch, called a loosely madcap comedy based on caricatures of modern day Hollywood, the germ of an idea is there, but there are just too many characters running in and out of the production to make it a compact zany comedy.

Mr. Kayalar has some of the Hollywood characters down pat and much of the dialogue has that “in Hollywood” feeling. The characters are way out, such as Josh (Brian Raffi) and his opening monologue of who believes he is a messiah. He comes out center stage and starts yelling that we all are “Californicators” and that this state has a Sodom and Gomorrah, which is Los Angeles and San Francisco. When one member of the cast, who sits in the audience, calls him names and and tells him to get off the stage, the farce finally starts.

Celik Kayalar takes on the role of a representative Freudian psychiatrist called Dr. Hollis Wood who has the messiah as a patient. Our messiah is so confused that he is not sure if he is a Christian or Muslim prophet. Entering into this crazy comedy is Pamela (Shannon Audra), who has the biggest bosom since Dolly Parton. Pamela has very little going on upstairs, and for some unknown reason comes into the shrink’s office believing she is auditioning for a film role. Conversation between the two is at cross purposes and this scene very funny. Of course, our good doctor who loves Mommy, admires Pam's endowments and does Groucho Marx shtick straight out of burlesque. Things get goofier and goofier with a dinner for two in the doctor’s apartment and finally Pamela getting religion. Don’t ask why.

Other characters come in and out in this short comedy, such as the doctor’s ex-wife, a fast-talking nympho with a steady line of “boy toys” at her beck and call. There is the required hunk who sleeps around a lot, a gay cop, some homeless persons, a prison guard who consults on lesbian sex films, a real Mommy who loves Oprah and Dr. Phil, and the rich all-American wheeler dealer father of Josh.

Kayalar's students handle the more farcical scenes. Shannon Audra needs more experience on the stage, but the amazing thing about her is that when she is auditioning for roles, such as Blanch in Streetcar Named Desire or a scene from Romeo and Juliet, she is very good. When she is using ordinary conversation, she tends to speed up her words too much. Linda Young, as the nympho ex-wife, also races through her words as if she is in a hurry to get off stage. Brian Raffi as Josh tends to yell a lot in the beginning, but after his character serves a term in prison (again, don’t ask why), he calms down and gives a creditable performance, especially in the last act soliloquy where he tries to present a screenplay.

Couch runs though September 25 at the Sheldon Theatre, 533 Sutter St, San Francisco. For information please call 415-433-7875, 510-232-3522 or www.ticketweb.com.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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