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THEATER BEAT

'Visitations' Explores Hurt and Forgiveness

August 02, 1996|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

"Visitations," Lynn Manning's one-acts at the Zephyr, addresses issues of great brutality, lingering rancor and whether the cleansing process of forgiveness is still possible in the present.

"The Convert" introduces us to Todd Brewer (Glen Porter), a condemned serial slayer who, like Saul, is struck stone-blind by a miraculous Christian epiphany. Exalted by his new faith, Brewer asks the Rev. Coleman (John Bentley) to seek the forgiveness of his various victims' families. When approached by Coleman, a bereaved mother and her daughter, Dora and Rae Franklin (Meta King and Bee-Be Smith, respectively), are forced to revisit the bitter past.

Manning's writing is always passionate and often vividly poetic, but his provocative premise is given short shrift in its present short form. Even in light of Brewer and King's poignant performances, the story and characters are underdeveloped, the ending inconclusive and Abdul Salaam El Razzac's direction somewhat overblown.

In "The Colorized Version," Dexter Walker (Quentin Drew) returns to the Hollywood bar where he was almost beaten to death by cops 17 years ago. Since its redneck heyday, the bar crowd has now become multi-racially dysfunctional, as the high-decibel exchanges between its patrons prove. Thanks largely to Sloan Robinson as a sexy female bartender, Manning and director El Razzac land some solid laughs here, despite a puzzling atmosphere of general peevishness.

* "Visitations," 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Ends Aug. 28. $10. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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