Advertisement

THEATER BEAT

'Girders' Holds Up but Cracks Remain

February 16, 1996|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

On the surface, "Girders" at the Coast Playhouse seems to have it all. Blessed with an excellent cast, writer-director Joshua Ravetch smoothly orchestrates his often affecting drama about the lives and relationships of a group of high-rise construction workers. However, on closer examination, the cracks in Ravetch's edifice become apparent.

Ravetch was inspired to write his play after seeing a Depression-era photograph of a group of laborers matter-of-factly eating their lunches while poised precariously on a girder. Ravetch has elected to set the action of his drama entirely on the girders of a high-rise under construction, a device that, despite all Ravetch's considerable ingenuity, ultimately proves constraining.

The elder statesman of the uniformly nimble cast is George Murdock, who plays Al, the savvy veteran of 40 years in this high-rise, high-risk profession. When Al learns that he is being retired, just a few weeks short of his full pension, his lifelong belief in the dignity of labor is reduced to a sham.

In an era of increasing corporate rapacity, Ravetch's plea for the working man is as eloquent as it is timely. However, substandard material is too often used. A scene between a construction worker and his newly pregnant wife trots out all the cliches. The transformation of a surly problem worker into a productive good buddy is tritely rendered. And when the manager actually decides to fire that problem worker, 60-odd floors up (with predictable repercussions), the obvious dramatic cheat causes a dangerous cave-in in the plot.

* "Girders," Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Feb. 25. $15. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 2 hours.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|