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CITY ARTS : Sibling Static

January 02, 1994|ROBERT J. LOPEZ

East West Players, the nation's foremost Asian Pacific American theater, explores the symbiotic relationship between two antagonistic siblings who come to terms with their differences in "Arthur and Leila," a complex psychological play.

The Los Angeles premiere of Cherylene Lee's new play, a bittersweet comedy set amid the backdrop of family strife, is the East West Players' second production during a 28th season that has been dedicated to plays written by or about women.

Nancy Kwan and Dana Lee star as the aging sister and brother of the title in search of their family heritage. As Leila Chin-Abernathy, Kwan is a community pillar whose success, wealth and prestige thrust her in direct conflict with her wayward brother. As Arthur, Lee is a gambler and drunk who supports himself by selling family heirlooms to his sister. But with each precious item that is sold, the two siblings exchange memories of family life, ultimately bridging the vast divide that separates them.

"Arthur and Leila" won this year's Fund for New American Plays award. Past recipients include Pulitzer Prize winners Tony Kushner for "Angels in America," Robert Schenkkan for "The Kentucky Cycle" and Wendy Wasserstein for "The Heidi Chronicles."

*

"Arthur and Leila," through Jan. 23, East West Players, 4424 Santa Monica Blvd; Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.; $20; student, senior and group discounts available; (213) 660-0366.

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