Thursday, February 18, 2010

Torture with Durang


The Blank Theatre Company has been around Hollywood for decades. Under the leadership of artistic director, Daniel Henning, who directs this piece, The Blank’s dedication to staying active and bringing imaginative theatre to the stage is admirable.. Very.

Christopher Durang is the kind of guy who must have a ball when he sits down to write a new play. “Torture” is fun and at the same time the chilling facts lurking shallowly beneath the surface are a part of our current world scene. That he has the ability to rewind and make things right is to his credit. That we all could just take it back a few scenes and fix things has yet to happen in this universe, but in Durang’s, it seems totally plausible.

“Torture,” simply, is just a lot of fun. To the strains of Karen Carpenter singing Close to You, Felicity (Rhea Seehorn) awakens in bed with and married to a complete stranger. In the throes of what may have been a date rape drug induced three hour romance, Reverend Mike (Nicholas Brendon) has married the lovely Felicity to a guy who may or may not be a terrorist, Zamir (the somewhat uneven Sunil Malhotra). As the plot unfolds, we meet Felicity’s parents: her mom, Luella.. (an incredibly loopy Christine Estabrook), whose wardrobe consists of ten identical dresses in ten different colors with shoes to match. Luella attends the theatre regularly to avoid the reality of her circumstances. Through her we hear Durang’s take on British playwrights on the dearth of Americans writing for the stage today. Felicity’s dad, Leonard (Mike Genovese) keeps a ‘butterfly collection’ in a well secured room upstairs. Neither Felicity nor Louella have ever actually seen the room nor his supposed butterfly collection. Quick on the draw; with rictus sneer, Leonard makes Rush Limbaugh look like a bleeding heart tree hugger.

Blend into the mix Durang’s ability to comment on the human condition at once with biting satire and great good humor. The catalyst: the crisp Alec Mapa, appearing as many different characters, narrates and has the ability to manipulate the action.

The off the wall notion that a young woman out for an evening is encountered by an “Irish” guy by the name of Zamir; winds up very drunk and married calls for major abandonment of disbelief for any audience. What director Henning has done, however, is bring to his cast spot on with Durang’s tongue well in cheek.. or is it? Casting incredulity aside, for those who are television fans, just to see Hildegarde's ( Seventh Heaven’s Catherine Hicks’) wardrobe malfunction is worth the price of admission.

Jeff G. Rack’s imaginative set and R. Christoper Stokes’ lighting bring the show to life.

Through March 14, 2010 at the Stella Adler..

Ticket Line: 323.661.9827 · Group Sales/Administration: 323.871.8018 · Fax 323.661.3903

Parking at Hollywood and Highland: two bucks.