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THEATER BEAT

Sincere Intentions Lost in 'Privileges'

February 16, 1996|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

In "Privileges" at the Ivar Theater, writer-director Michael J. Holland attempts to examine the ramifications of marital rape, but his obviously sincere intentions get lost in the general muddle of his plot.

All the performers in Holland's drama are double-cast. Maria McCann plays Jenny, a disgruntled wife whose husband Peter (David Kloser) regularly forces her to have sex with him. Ten years ago, Jenny was violently raped by a stranger, Billy (Tim Antwine). Billy was convicted, and Jenny later gave birth to his child (Porscha Singh).

Not one to hold a grudge, Jenny has regularly corresponded with Billy during his time in prison. When Billy is paroled, Jenny unhesitatingly admits him to her condo for a cozy chat, even though she's alone and defenseless. Not to worry. Ennobled by his years in the stir, Billy has emerged a veritable prince among men. More misunderstood than malignant, both Billy and Peter are victims too--or so Holland would have it.

Relentlessly melodramatic and meandering, "Privileges" largely dismisses the function of evil in human actions. By portraying all his characters as uniformly sympathetic, Holland unwittingly diminishes the violence of rape. Cartoonish motivations and undisciplined story structure further blunt this misguided drama.

* "Privileges," Ivar Theatre, 1605 N. Ivar Ave., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Ends Feb. 25. $15. (213) 667-0446. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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