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THEATER | REVIEW

Short on Meaning

Brief 'Fine Line' at Whitefire Theatre displays too little depth and humor.

January 01, 1998|ROBIN RAUZI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One good thing about "Fine Line": You can arrive early, the show can start late, and when it's over, your car's engine will still be warm.

At 22 minutes, this one-act play by Janice Van Horne is hardly a full evening of theater. What, then, to make of this production at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks? That it is a showcase for its two young, blond actresses? Most likely.

Dody (Angela Adams) and Zee (Shevonne Durkin) are two socialites from the Upper East Side of New York, and the drama takes place while they freshen up in a bedroom during a party.

There's a certain divisiveness about Zee that makes you believe these two could, in fact, have known each other since childhood. At this point, Zee thinks she has heard all the complaints that Dody could offer up, and thus largely ignores her so-called friend.

Durkin flits about the minimal but effective set--bed, dressing table and ornamental rugs--occasionally going up on her toes like a dancer. She's an interesting visual counterpoint to Adams, who hurls herself onto the bed and largely stays there. Their chemistry is that of an old married couple who talk but don't listen.

Though people do talk over one another in real life, in this play it quickly gets grating. The same problem was noted by a reviewer of Van Horne's play "Losing It in Cross Plains," produced at Theatre 40 in 1990. That reviewer blamed the director. Reviewing "Fine Line," however, makes one believe that it's a stylistic choice by the playwright, and not an entirely good one.

Dody is struggling--if you can call it that--with the idea of leaving her husband. But it's hard to feel sorry for her--Zee clearly doesn't--when she keeps whining.

"Zee," she snivels, "should I take the satellite dish?"

Still, Adams' voice is muffled at first, and her character seems in soft focus compared with Durkin's sharp-edged Zee.

The summary of the play on fliers reads: "Two women struggle to find meaning in their lives and test the depth of their friendship." The thing is, these women don't really care about meaning at all. They care about appearances and comforts and having the right pantyhose. Their friendship has no depth because they have no depth.

The directors--David Beaird came in after Gene Weygandt left two weeks into production--keep the action moving and keep the whole thing from seeming like an acting exercise. But the attempt to capture the dark humor in these financially wealthy but personally bankrupt characters falls flat.

Somehow the women on "Absolutely Fabulous" carry it off, and make it funny. The two in "Fine Line," though, are unbearable. Even in a 22-minute chunk.

BE THERE

"Fine Line," at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Wednesday and Jan. 8, 8 p.m. $10. Reservations required. (818) 347-1199.

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