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THEATER BEAT

'Early Morning' Has a Swift, Biting Touch

September 27, 1996|JANA J. MONJI

Entering Edward Bond's nightmare world in "Early Morning" may frighten fainthearted Anglophiles, yet this Swiftian horror story is more delightfully nasty than the Chuck-Di soap opera and infinitely more intellectually satisfying.

In this Evidence Room production, director Bart DeLorenzo fiendishly attacks American royalist sensibilities and slyly celebrates the duplicity of social morality in the Industrial Age that dawned under Queen Victoria's reign.

Bond creates a dog-eat-dog world where a grasping, lustfully lesbian Queen Victoria (Pamela Gordon) rapes Florence Nightingale (Laura D'Arista), while her mild-mannered consort Albert (Michael Adler) plots her assassination. Caught in the middle are Victoria's Siamese twin boys--George (David Bauman), the good son and future king, and Arthur (Kourosh Gohar), the bad son. Disraeli (Burr Steers) and Gladstone (Allan Hendrick) also appear in this warped historic drama where everyone dies and meets in an unhappy heaven, where the only thing left to consume is themselves.

Under DeLorenzo's sensitive direction, nothing really obscene or vulgar happens. DeLorenzo has sensibly not exploited themes of sex and cannibalism. The gore is kept to a minimum, yet still chillingly represented. Instead, Bond's words and concepts are allowed to shine as he pushes Swift's solution to the Irish Catholic overpopulation problem into the paradigm of Industrial Age consumerism and power-hungry competition.

* "Early Morning," Evidence Room, 3542 Hayden Ave., Culver City. Call for specific dates. Repertory schedule: Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends Nov. 3. $15. (310) 841-2799. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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