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Lighter Side of Hostility : Two one-act comedies take a look at relationships and the bitter feelings that can come from them.

July 08, 1994|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTH HOLLYWOOD — With relationship abuse so much in the news these days, two one-act plays under the umbrella title "An Evening of Hostility" approach the subject from a different angle. Opening at the Limelight Playhouse tonight, both plays are serious in intent but look at hostility with a smile.

Brett Pearsons' dark comedy "Eight Minutes of Unpredictability," takes a look at the love-struck irrationality of three males. Nicole Montgomery's comedy-drama, "There Is No Happy Medium," regards the situation from an individualistic female standpoint.

The playwrights, members of the same producing company, I-Clan Productions, converge each evening with their own views and their original methods of presenting them. Pearsons was looking for a slot in an evening of one-acts for his short play. Montgomery's play was on its way to a three-act form when Pearsons suggested a shorter version.

Pearsons says, "We both realized that the plays were about relationships, and sometimes there are some bitter feelings that come out." The umbrella title was born out of a desire "to evoke a certain kind of response." Their characters are equally hostile.

Pearsons describes "Eight Minutes" as surrealistic. Three men are hung up on the same woman. They've all made mistakes in their approaches, but don't accept the responsibility for the resulting problems. The characters are larger than life, and their justifications are outrageous. That's how Pearsons sees male Angst.

"The world I've tried to present," Pearsons says, "is based on people like me who grew up pretty sheltered. I went to college. My parents are still together. I didn't get much into the harsh things that are happening in America."

The comedy plays with irony a great deal. The men pretend to be angrier than they actually are. It's just that their feelings are hurt. "They may be hostile, or intimidating or trying to cause frustration in someone else. But it's all really based in insecurity, so they come off as ridiculous," Pearsons says. "All of the characters do themselves in emotionally, which is what a person who's in love, or truly emotionalized, does."

When asked about men who love their women, treat them well and live happily ever after, Montgomery laughs loudly. "Where did they go?" she asks.

She believes there is no middle ground in the War Between Men and Women, no "Happy Medium." Her protagonist is in an unhappy relationship, and in retaliation she has an affair--with another woman. To her, this is no different from his outside affairs.

Montgomery says her play "is about a woman who's not really sure what she wants to do in her relationship and finds out through this experience she has. Everybody has their own perception of what is real and what they believe in. And anyway, who made up this big rule that monogamy is the way? I explore that as well in the story."

Montgomery feels there is very little individuality in the country these days, that people are all supposed to believe the same thing. When two people disagree about something, she thinks, there should be respect for the other's opinion and a will to work forward from that respect. Her play also addresses that subject.

"With a happy medium," she says, "one of them is going to have to give up their beliefs to do that. 'I guess I forgive you, but you were wrong.' "

Montgomery and Pearsons blame both sexes for troubled relationships.

Both playwrights are convinced, Montgomery explains, "the big problem is that we communicate differently. Men change the oil in the car, and they think that's saying they love you. Women buy flowers and think that shows they love the men. It's a totally different thing, and we need to start understanding that more, because however it's been looked at isn't working very well."

Where and When

What: "An Evening of Hostility."

Location: Limelight Playhouse, 10634 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Ends Aug. 14.

Price: $12.

Call: (818) 342-8718.

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