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Theater Review

Moving Arts' 'Relativity' a Mixed Bag of One-Acts

November 06, 1996|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Evening A of "Relativity and Reality," a festival of one-acts at Moving Arts, attempts to encompass a sweeping thematic spectrum but too often obscures shaky story structure under the diffuse light of absurdity.

In James J. Cordes' "Where Afghans Walk With A Elegance," the mentally limited Irving Gosserman (Richard Ruyle) finds a new sense of dignity and self-worth when he is hired as a museum handyman. By filtering the works of acclaimed artists through the perspective of this wise fool, Cordes comments wittily on the subjectivity of art. However, Mark Kinsey Stephenson's routine direction and Ruyle's stereotypical portrayal do little to offset the play's intrinsic mawkishness--or its strained and melodramatic ending.

Second on the bill, "Riding the Wave"--Ruyle's first play--is the standout offering of this mixed evening. Julie Briggs' direction never overstates Ruyle's delicate blend of humor and existential dread. James Smith and William Cowart are also assured as two surfer dudes seeking enlightenment from an unseen, increasingly malevolent guru. Unfortunately, these two seekers dangerously abrogate their senses of self in the process.

Nat Colley's futuristic allegory "The Dangerous Minute," a would-be examination of the lack of leisure in a technological age, reduces a provocative, particularly timely concept into awkwardly rendered sci-fi. Staged as a strident pitch by Michael Fairman, the play offers little exposition about the scientific and/or governmental machinery that resulted in this totalitarian police state, which controls and monitors time.

"Jesus Christ vs. Godzilla" by Michael T. Folie (author of the long-running "The Adjustment") is promising, often funny camp, staged by Theatre LA executive director William Freimuth. But Folie's notion of an alternative reality where the simulacra of the famous dwell (Christ is one of the older inhabitants), often slips from the incredible to the illogical, stripping the gears of this outlandish comedy.

* "Relativity and Reality": Evening A, Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Ends Sunday. $12. (213) 665-8961. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

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