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Play Grew Into Family Affair

August 19, 1993|ANNE LOUISE BANNON

Playwright Rick Garman says his play "17 Days," which premieres Saturday at the Colony Studio Theatre in Los Angeles, is a lot like the story of a man who slips on a banana peel.

The man's chance encounter with the peel puts him in the path of an oncoming car, which hits him. He spends a long time in a hospital, loses his job, wife and family. Things get worse and worse until the man gets a gun and tries to rob a bank.

He is caught and tells one police officer the whole sad story. When a second officer asks the first cop why the man robbed the bank, the officer replies:

"He slipped on a banana peel."

Said Garman: "It's what caused it, but it's not what it's about."

It's the same with the events of the play, which takes place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as four adult siblings return to their childhood home to pack up their deceased father's belongings. In so doing, they learn how they deal with one another, the playwright said.

One of the four siblings has AIDS. The fatal disease, initially, had a lot to do with why Garman began the play, he said.

"I guess when I sat down, that's what I wanted the play to be about, but it has become about a lot of other things," he said. "It's primarily about family."

The basic conflict centers on the youngest brother--a rock star who is gay and sick. He tells his three older sisters that he plans to hold a press conference and reveal his sexual orientation and his illness, something none of his sisters want him to do.

"Again, I need to stress that this is not a quote, unquote, AIDS play," Garman said. "But it does put across a very specific message, and it does it in a very subtle way."

After Saturday's 8 p.m. premiere, performances will continue Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Oct. 3 at the Colony Studio Theatre, 1944 Riverside Drive. Ticket prices are $15 to $20. Reservations and information: (213) 665-3011.

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