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STAGE REVIEW : 'Accelerando': Love at 2 Speeds


To a classical musician, accelerando means speed it up, but only in music, not in life. The word holds richer potency for a ballet dancer recovering from a broken foot, intent on finding true love by dawn on this particular New Year's Eve.

"She," as the dancer is called in Lisa Loomer's delightfully kinky romantic comedy "Accelerando," at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles, has spent her convalescence creating a calendar that squeezes human history into the 12 months of one year ("We've been overbooked for the last 600 years!") and sees life diminishing faster than she can live it.

The bassoonist she finds at a holiday party, known only as "He," is not only first chair with the New York Philharmonic but is also struggling to finish a feature length film, of which he is auteur. He thinks a one-night stand would be just fine. True to the '90s, they're unaware they're on the same track, at different speeds.

While sounding just slightly autobiographical--She is a Hungarican (half Hungarian, half Puerto Rican), and playwright Loomer is of a similar heritage--the comedy is inventive and absorbing.

Pamela Gien is a volatile bundle of energy as the ever-optimistic She, overcoming her overnight disappointment with a sure eye on the future fulfillment of her 60-m.p.h. rush toward love. Ron Orbach has as strong a handle on his view of He, unable to fit the idea of commitment to another into his commitment to his career. His mystical approach to life, including an acceptance of reincarnation and the theory that they may be soul-mates risen above the ruination of marriage, bounces joyfully off her matter-of-fact belief in the romantic power of legal bonding.

Both He and She are goaded into their various detours around the inevitable by the dream appearances of their respective mothers. Lynn Milgrim plays his--an overly flamboyant, disappointed concert pianist fulfilling herself in Oedipal fantasies; Alina Cenal plays hers--lusty and highly spiced. They are both cartoons, as the young often see their elders. The performances couldn't be closer to the off-kilter reality they represent.

Two directors (Jody McAuliffe, Ron Sossi) are credited; whoever did what, they did it right. Vincent Jefferds' spare setting is classy and multifunctional, along with Jenny T. Jefferds' costumes and Mitchell S. Levine's sensitive lighting. Mitch Greenhill's original soundtrack music is beautifully complemented by Elijah Koenig's live musical punctuation.

* "Accelerando," Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A.; Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Ends July 28. $15.50-$19.50; (213) 477-2055. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.

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