The boundaries crossed in these two top-notch monologues at Company of Angels aren't fraught with danger, nor do they concern cataclysmic events. They are simple, human, affecting boundaries over which the two protagonists traverse in playing the best game they can with the cards they've been dealt.
Brad Bailey's "Crowning Glory" concerns the non-steel magnolia who owns Annette's Beautyrama in an unspecified town presumably in the playwright's native Alabama. Annette is nice, in the best sense of the word.
She doesn't even hold much anger for ex-husband Ray, who beat her up and then cut off the bountiful head of hair her mother called her "crowning glory."
Annette even understands why the words don't appear in the Bible as she had always thought, because, after all, men wrote the Bible, and "men don't know much about hair. Or crowns. Or glory." So she wrote them in herself with an "ink pen."
Actress Suanne Spoke is a delight as Annette discovering that on the other side of her early boundaries she \o7 can \f7 be self-sufficient, fulfilled and happy.
She's a charmer.
Jean Colonomos' "The Waiting Room" is a deeper, richer piece of writing, and the performance of Joan Darling as a woman in her 50s, visiting her autistic husband at his hospital to deliver an unsettling piece of news, is a gem.
Ethel Rosen really loves Melvin and always has. She encouraged him in business and totally shared his love for their daughter Thelma. But Ethel has never been able to understand his withdrawal from reality, just because of the one failure, the bankruptcy which cost him his business.
Now she has something important to tell him, that she is about to cross her own boundary to rejoin the living--and the loving. It is a difficult dramatic transition handled by Darling with ease and finesse. Even Ethel's thoughtful silences are rich in the detail of this fine characterization.
Both pieces are directed with insight into what makes women tick by Mary Lou Belli, who understands that a moment of quiet can be as dramatic as a crack of thunder.
\o7 At 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake, today and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.; ends Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets: $10; (213) 664-6598.
\f7 'What Can I Tell You?'
What can I tell you? Siobhan Fallon is a very funny lady.
In her evening of one-woman sketches at 2nd Stage she manages to explore the same territory Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg inhabit with equally funny results.
Fallon's art is characterization, and that's exactly what allows her to use some well-worn cliches as springboards and make them look brand new. Her Valley girl clone of "High School Harmony" erases memories of lesser Valley girls, just as her platitude spouting, time conscious group therapist gives a new comic edge to \o7 that \f7 stereotype.
Each of her sketches springs from an unerring comic sense. Fallon thinks funny, therefore she is. There is heart behind her humor. In a business surfeited with unfunny would-be comics, she's an original.
\o7 At 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, today through Sunday only, 8 p.m. Tickets: $9.99; (213) 874-9399.
\f7 'A Waitress Nightmare'
Scratch a waiter or waitress and you'll probably find an actor. Apparently you might even find a playwright. In "A Waitress Nightmare" at Believers Repertory, Nancy D'Aleo puts her experiences to use in a slight sitcom about a contest between waitresses in the coffee shop of the Swaying Palms Hotel (at least Janet Stout's costumes say coffee shop).
It's not a high-class joint (mustard instead of horseradish is served with the roast beef) and it's not a very high-class comedy. Although her characters are well drawn (Christina Miller as a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist who lies about being a writer, and Leslie Brooks as a new mother with a lactating fixation stand out) they mostly just sit around and schmooze.
Bekah Dannelley's direction is bright enough to catch most of the humor but not deep enough to erase the feeling that a commercial is just around the corner. Larry G. Welch almost saves the evening with a spiraling comic performance as the frenetic kooky cook Flash.
\o7 At 9025 Cynthia St., West Hollywood, Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m., indefinitely. Tickets: $7; (213) 463-6480.
\f7 'Chateau in Sweden'
Author-playwright Francoise Sagan has cast her certain smile on many an odd situation in her work and doesn't stint in her examination of the definitely odd goings-on at this definitely odd chateau in Sweden. A number of interesting Gallic theater pieces have been presented by producer Yasmine Golchan and this strange comedy at Callboard Theatre is another apt choice.
Sagan borrows the sexual games of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" and a bit of Pirandello (an actor jumps out of the action into the audience to cries of "unfair"). It is all very stylish and theatrical, though its staging here tries to deny the fact, under Pierre de Moro's plodding, insensitive direction. His company is decidedly American and doesn't have the delicacy the work demands.