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THEATER BEAT

'Moving' Wrestles With Life's Changes

August 02, 1996|PHILIP BRANDES

"Moving" isn't.

Neither emotionally involving nor possessing much dramatic momentum, Lee Kalcheim's play traces the lives of two friends--shy, scholarly Diana (Elizabeth Karr) and brash, feisty Megan (Vanessa Easton)--at three pivotal junctures during the period from 1970 to 1982. Dutifully tapping familiar women's issues--relationships, careers, sexual orientation--it plays like a second-generation photocopy of Jack Heifner's "Vanities," which covered similar emotional territory with far greater sensitivity.

Kalcheim offers no new perspectives or insights into these topics, he simply raises them in artificially abstract pronouncements padded with aimless chatter--a poor substitute for character definition that exceeds the performers' abilities to compensate.

The central unifying conceit has each scene revolve around one of the friends helping the other move to a new apartment. Yet their exchanges and confrontations are more confessional than climactic, resulting in a curiously static effect that undermines the theme of life transitions.

Director Peter Ellenstein has seized the metaphor with a literal-minded vengeance, inundating the respective studio, loft and luxury living spaces with an extravagant array of shipping cartons and disassembled furniture. But with more realism in the set than in the dialogue, the emphasis is misplaced. About the best that can be said for "Moving" is that it's as gripping as schlepping boxes can get.

* "Moving," Hollywood Court Theatre, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Aug. 18. $12. (213) 658-4028. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

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