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Stage Review : Rape And Revenge In 'Moon'


When a program note asks you not to divulge the ending of a play, you can be fairly certain that what you'll see relates to the theater in the way that an O. Henry short story relates to literature. When it comes to details, all good plays that enjoy long lives have no secrets. It's their deeper implications that keep them alive.

The ending of Nicholas Kazan's "Blood Moon" at the Odyssey is indeed gruesome enough that mention of it here might be sufficient to turn your stomach. (This metaphor will be your only clue.) "Blood Moon" is a revenge play. Girl gets raped. Girl plots a way to get back. Girl succeeds. End of play.

Kazan has drawn fine, if limited, portraits of the seducer-rapist, young girl and the girl's pusillanimous uncle. Act I takes place in Alan the rapist's apartment. He's a smarmy, self-satisfied middleman for unspecified but definitely sub-rosa doings on the part of other people. (Even his apartment is for rent, including videotape camera.)

When his friend Gregory (Greg Lewis) shows up for drinks one night with Gregory's 19-year-old niece Manya (Dana Delaney), Alan treats her to every oily line that has ever oozed from the smirking lips of a singles cruiser ("Tell me, ma petite, when people are drunk, are they more themselves or less themselves," "Everybody's a pimp; either a pimp or a whore" and "Life exists in moments of disruption, chaos" are choice among them).

"Blood Moon's" opening and closing, where Manya addresses the audience directly, are a little ambiguous. "The words are the playwright's," she tells us at the outset. "The events, virtually all of them, are mine"--this after she's told us that what happened was the experience of a classmate. And her ending--"Am I a monster? Was I? I don't know. I chose this course of revenge for reasons of symmetry"--is as emotionally detached as an editorial conclusion.

As far as it goes, "Blood Moon" is well told, even gripping in spots, and it's tonic to hear in a young writer a cautionary note about sex ("It's not recreational," Manya tells her dinner guests. "Every time you (do it), you're playing with something very powerful") in an age when sex is commercially treated with the casualness of an afterthought. But too much of "Blood Moon" is told rather than played, and although Dana Delaney makes a notable transition from perky, pretty teen-ager to someone whose blood has been terminally chilled, she doesn't have the vocal dexterity to sustain her long Act II soliloquies.

Michael Macrae's Alan has a lizard-like self-satisfaction so complete that it's rewarding to see him get it in the end, and Greg Lewis is adept at the nebbishy, well-intended kind of role that was once the province of Martin Balsam.

"Blood Moon" has its visceral moments (Frank Condon is the good director), but it's theatrically disengaging just the same. Mitra Emadian designed the set, Lisa Lovaas the costumes and Pam Rank the lights--all of whom appear to have been under severe budgetary restrictions.

Performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays, 7:30 p.m., at 12111 Ohio Ave., West Los Angeles, (213) 826-1626, through June 16.

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