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THEATER BEAT

Mesmerizing Actor, Prosaic Plays

June 04, 1993|RICHARD STAYTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Sometimes a brilliant actor can salvage an otherwise pedestrian production. During a redundant military courtroom drama, "Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks," a distracted elderly gentleman takes the stand. He mutters, hesitates, considers each response, rarely gestures--yet we're hypnotized.

How does Jeff Corey seize our breathless attention? His technique is subtle, imperceptible, mysterious, unforgettable--everything lacking in the rest of the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's evening of Romulus Linney plays.

This trio of one-acts provokes another question: How can a playwright, famed for his poetic dialogue, sound so leaden and prosaic?

*"The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks," "Juliet" and "Can Can," Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 7 p.m., Sunday matinees June 13 and June 20, 3 p.m. Ends July 3. $12-$21.50. (310) 477-2055. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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