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Stage Reviews : Fringe Festival : Flames Don't Fan Strindberg 1-acts

September 18, 1987|DAN SULLIVAN | Times Theater Critic

Strindberg's plays mustn't be faintly acted. His people have strong wills and a taste for torment. Even when they are being coldly correct with each other, flames should be licking away.

Second Stage's double-bill of Strindberg one-acts, "The Stronger" and "The Creditors," posseses neither fire nor ice. The first, directed by Salome Jens, has Trisha Dunn as the wife and Taylor Donlan as the other woman, who doesn't need to speak a word.

Donlan's silent glances come from somewhere, but Dunn is reading lines rather than having an experience. We don't see why the wife has come for a tete a tete on Christmas Eve, nor do we watch her change as she absorbs some rather upsetting information. This is supposed to be a play of buried action; but not this buried.

"The Creditors," directed by Paul Fagen, has a little more blood in it. David O. Cameron plays a young artist torn between a wife who has almost unmanned him (Lisa Richards) and a friendly seeming mentor who does not have his interests at heart (John Walter Davis.)

Mesmerism is a theme here, and Cameron has the hysteria of a perfect subject. We're also reminded of a child being pulled this way and that by divorcing parents.

But neither Davis' mentor nor Richards' wife possesses the requisite intensity. The point is too well made that these are quite ordinary people. We need to get down to the level of Strindberg's paranoia, where nobody is ordinary.

Performances at 6500 Santa Monica Blvd. run Thursday-Sunday, 8 p.m., through Oct. 8. Tickets: $10-$12; (213) 466-1767.

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