Saturday, October 25, 2014

WORLD PREMIERE: A or B? at The Falcon

Garry Marshall’s Falcon Theatre is unique.  The choices for productions vary and are always professionally presented in every aspect.  The World Premiere of Ken Levine’s A or B? is no exception.  In his program notes, Levine credits Marshall with virtually everything that his writing has come to, citing early episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show penned by Marshall and his writing partner, Jerry Belson as inspirational.  Certainly, situation comedy is at the forefront here, but with a bit of in depth soul searching that features well timed one liners (including a sly reference to Pretty Woman). It’s a comedy. A comedy with heart.

A or B?'s multifunctional set with New York skyline by Bruce Goodrich (who also did the appropriate costumes), with snazzy lighting by Jeremy Pivnik set the scene. Uncomplicated precision moves by director Andrew Barnicle keep the show moving a pace.  Sexy Jules Willcox as Abby Morgan and Jason Dechert as ripped Ben Steele: both superbly cast millenials, bring this somewhat bizarre piece to life.  
Jason Dechert and Jules Willcox in
A or B? at the Falcon Theatre.
Photo by Jill Mamey.

 The 1998 German film, RUN, LOLA, RUN captured the imagination by showing three different scenarios as the lithe redheaded Franka Potente as Lola sets out to save her boyfriend’s life by running to collect money to get him out of a jam.  Each time she sprints from her apartment, she has obstacles that make her frantic chase change. In each of the three episodes we see the minutes fly by as she dashes into three different futures. Levine’s play uses a somewhat similar approach by having Ben and Abby meet in slightly different ways.  Each character is the same person, but Abby is defined at first by a red dress and then by blue.  Each color then represents attitudes and even the same lines delivered with different approaches.  It works.  This is not Chekov it’s a modern take on relationships: business and romantic.  The twain shall meet and there’s the rub.

Levine says that television has pretty much defined his approach to writing and the situation comedy element is played here in broad strokes bringing gales of laughter from the opening night audience.  A or B?'s  cultural references and the use of cyber tools (“I hate ATandT!”) create a hip and happening atmosphere.  We open on Abby on the phone chatting with her cat making kissy sounds before getting back on with her mother in hometown Northwest USA discussing which dress to wear, hot red or cool blue,  to an interview with Ben for a position in his marketing analysis firm in New York City. The play asks the musical question, “Love or Ambition: A or B?  Choose one?” As the characters swap attitudes with sexual innuendo as well as in the sacko, we see the same characters under the influence of completely different takes on their lives, as well as a martini or two. It’s sweet and sour and bitter sweet as time passes and in the final analysis we see Abby in a purple dress, another shot at something special evolves as we may have hoped all along.

Supporting this professional theatre with a season ticket gets you invited to the Opening Night Performance and preferential parking.  Garry Marshall is a grand host and the goodies and champagne are not to be missed.  A or B? It deserves  an audience!!

A or B?
by Ken Levine
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91505
October 24, to November 16, 2014
Tickets and information 
818 955 8101

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