Are we having fun yet? There's no doubt about it when 15-year-olds Bonnie and Hillary meet early in the day in James Bosley's "Fun," at the Burbage Theatre in West L.A. They get down to the fun right off, and for both it's something new in their unhappy lives.
Bosley's fish-eye lens look into their day is based on a true story. As we watch them fill the first few hours with the delights and misdemeanors which entrance disenfranchised teens, our awareness of the awful end of their day makes their high spirits all the more tragic. They do have fun, all right, and it doesn't end until the police find them "cuddling in bed, in their pajamas."
Why do the police want them? Because their shrieking and giggling game of doorbell ringing wasn't much fun for a kindly old woman behind one of those doors--Bonnie's 27 butcher-knife stabs left her dead in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. The girls are still giggling.
"Fun" tries to ferret out some of the reasons why Bonnie and Hillary took such a giddy view of their act--they even wonder who will play them in the TV movie about their crime. Laura Jacoby as Bonnie and Donna Eskra as Hillary go a long way to help clear things up in their volatile, energetic and clear-minded performances. They \o7 become \f7 15 in detail and in tone--and a sign of the times.
David Abbott is strong as a national magazine writer who is cataloguing the jigsaw puzzle of the crime, and Kathy Bell Denton delicately balances the courage and despair of a case worker, once a bad girl herself, trying to figure it out from another angle. Andy Griggs' direction is taut and clear, his staging artful.
\o7 "Fun," Burbage Theatre, 2330 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Sept. 1. $15; (213) 478-0897. Running time: 1 hour,10 minutes. \f7
'Sum of Its Parts' Equals Total of Whole
Sometimes the edges between performance art and theater become fuzzy, but not in "Sum of Its Parts No. 4," a "Gay/Straight Chaser," also at the Burbage. Most of it is pure theater, pared to its essentials.
Kari Lynn Vail's two pieces are the least accomplished, though Shabaka's direction complements her energy. She first skewers the universality of sexuality in a rather graphic examination of how a lesbian may or may not satisfy another woman. Then, on a broader note, she caricatures a woman lawyer who is into social consciousness yet winds up strangling a homeless man in a Nordstrom's parking lot.
Although Dave Higgins' "Grandfather's Catfish" at first looks a bit trite in its very personal mosaic of a new father's passions, he weaves the threads of his heritage and his dreams into an intriguing surrealist tapestry of macho insecurity and vulnerability. His writing is incisive and honest.
Keegan and Lloyd, if not "America's Most Beloved Gay Couple" as billed, may be America's most inventive gay couple. They are very centered and explicit in their new piece, "Domestic Partners." They know the bright peaks and dark valleys of a relationship and bound between the two with intriguing movement, warm humor and invention (a blender co-stars with them in this outing).
The poetry of Eric Trules' writing and performance, and the clipped accents of his vision of a male's relationship to the frightening world around him, set his work apart in a very special place. Whether he's fighting to regain the fence on which he balances in his first piece, or struggling to return to the seclusive room on which his existence centers in another segment, he makes it very clear that none of us are anywhere near where we think we are in life. We're always hiding, always afraid. He opens our minds and feeds our intellect. \o7 "Sum of Its Parts 4," Burbage Theatre, 2330 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles. Saturdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Ends Aug. 11. $12; (213) 478-0897. Running time: 2 hours.\f7
'70s 'Treats' Lacks Zip But Rings True Today
Christopher Hampton wrote "Treats" in the mid-'70s, but his darkly humorous map of the anguish of abusive relationships rings as true today as it did then.
This revival at Hollywood's Tamarind Theatre, under Roy Conli's direction, is a classy staging lacking only an inner fire. The rhythms are right--they're just not crisp enough.
Anne (Jill Jacobson) just got rid of Dave (Scott Lincoln) after three years. Dave treated her so badly that she moves in with Patrick (John-Frederick Jones), a crashing bore from the office, for contrast. Dave bounds back and displaces Patrick, who goes home to mother. Patrick returns one more time, but by now, Anne has decided that Dave's active abuse is preferable.
The three strong performances are done a disservice by the production's lack of energy.
\o7 "Treats," Tamarind Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. Monday-Wednesday, 8 p.m. $15; (213) 466-1767. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. \f7
'Psychic Poker' Often Hits Its Improv Mark
Improv is a chancy sport, but it can work, and often does with the HepCats in their "Psychic Poker" at Friends and Artists Theatre.