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THEATER BEAT

Guys and Devils in a Choppy 'Soul'

May 23, 1997|JANA J. MONJI

Playwright-actor Ted Lange of "Love Boat" fame asks a familiar question: Would you sell your soul to the devil? "Soul Survivor," a choppy comedy playing at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center, is a tad predictable, and the chemistry and timing of the three principals are not always on target.

After a night of pizza and Jack Daniels, a recently jilted postal worker named Guy (Lange) meets the Devil (Shabaka Barry Henley). The Devil offers him "fame, fortune and fornication," but what Guy really wants is "true love," which comes in the guise of Stacey (Yolanda King).

Lange does make this slightly weary scenario funny and sitcom-clever, but the script pops a run of one-liners and then abruptly stops for thinly disguised monologues on topics that range from how "white" a name like Guy seems, to the torture of putting on pantyhose, to the destructive forces of the church. Director Ron Stacker Thompson cannot correct this rather jarring stop-start effect and is ineffectual in creating a strong pace and flow.

Lange and King create no sparks, but the scripting is short on character development. After all, does true love really come from getting drunk and having great sex with a stranger?

* "Soul Survivor," Lee Strasberg Creative Center, 7986 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Ends June 22. $20. (213) 466-1767. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes.

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