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THEATER BEAT

True Fiction Has Energy to Spare

September 05, 1997|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

You have to hand it to the cast of True Fiction Magazine, the veteran San Francisco improv troupe making its Los Angeles debut at the Hudson. These guys get points for sheer staying power, not to mention energy. The company, which has been working together since 1988, specializes in weaving full-blown, wholly improvisational two-act plays--more than 5,000 to date.

These freewheeling efforts are the theatrical equivalent of sand sculptures, created in the moment and washed away before the next evening's performance, never to be seen again. The cast solicits an audience suggestion as a jumping-off point for surreal inventive plots, which, on the night this reviewer attended, segued from a "mummy"-like tale about a cursed amulet to a dithery sweet romance between two offbeat book lovers.

Despite a few slips in tone, the cast--Diane Barry, Rafe Chase, Paul Killam, Regina Saisi, Stephen Kearin, Reed Kirk Rahlmann and Barbara Scott--shows the ease of long association in their ambitious round-robin improvisations, which interweave themes and story lines in a sometimes muddled but often remarkably disciplined fashion. J. Raoul Brody provides essential accompaniment on keyboards, while "lighting improviser" Amy Weinberg uncannily anticipates the company's needs.

*

* True Fiction Magazine, Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends Oct. 5. $15-$18. (888) 566-8499. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.

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