Martin Sherman's "A Table for a King" at Highways is the opening one-act in Sherman's full-length work, "A Madhouse in Goa." Perhaps because it is part of a larger work, "Table" seems insubstantial at first, the hors d'oeuvre without the meal. Ultimately, though, this seemingly slight piece packs surprising heft.
The setting is the Greek island of Corfu, watering hole for artists and literary greats. It's 1966, a time of worldwide social upheaval. On the veranda of the Kistos Inn, however, pampered tourists drift in an almost existential haze of indolence.
Nikos (Gary Dean Ruebsamen) is the inn's unctuously charming owner. When his flamboyant American patron Mrs. Honey (Susan Tyrrell) refuses to give up her prime table for the king of Greece, Nikos shows the subterranean depths to which he can descend.
By contrast, David (Nathan D. Baker), a young tourist, is an almost childlike innocent, a homosexual virgin. As David vents his melancholy in his journal, he is exhorted by Mrs. Honey to live a little. After his hilarious but sordid seduction by a Greek busboy (Reza Safai), David commences his own passage into guilt, secrecy and the subterranean.
* "A Table for a King," Highways, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Thursdays-Sundays, 8:30 p.m. Ends Aug. 30. $16-$20. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.