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Theater Review

A Women's 'Club' With No Benefits

November 18, 1998|ROBERT KOEHLER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In their movies, when Mickey and Judy wanted to put on a show, you knew that they'd do a great job, and not just because they were Mickey and Judy.

They willed it to happen. They believed.

Richard Wesley's new play, "The Siddons Club," at Golden West College's Studio West Theatre, is about a group of young women in the New York theater scene who fight to keep open their boarding house, which is named after 18th century actress Sarah Siddons.

It is a its own kind of Mickey-Judy play, but there's nothing to believe in.

The anonymous program notes for Wesley's play explain that "there are so few young women's plays written and even fewer with large casts, so we developed this play to serve student needs."

That's a hard notion to buy, since nearby community colleges including Cypress and Orange Coast are doing wonderful work with fine parts for actresses.

In truth, "The Siddons Club" is so unready for the stage that it serves no one's needs. Rather than do (as at Orange Coast) new and revived small-cast plays in rep, or (as at Concordia and Saddleback colleges) classics by Ibsen and Albee with rich female roles, the choice is to fashion an unwieldy, rambling ensemble comedy with 21 speaking parts.

Two of the bigger roles belong to men--a wooden Mark Aguirre, as wealthy producer Michael Crail, and a likable Jeffrey Olin as a law student helping the Siddons Club stay afloat. Ironically, for a project whose mission was to give women work, few of them have much--if anything--to do onstage under Renata Florin's amazingly sloppy direction.

Laura Yarbourgh, bright, engaging and charismatic, plays Lynn, one of the only developed characters. Lynn, so devoted to theater that she rejects Crail's TV pitches, is the play's heart and soul. Still, she refers to "Equity waiver theater," which doesn't exist in New York, and argues with a star-struck gal pal (April Rameriz) that you can't do TV and theater in L.A. Tell that to hundreds of L.A. actors who do..

"The Siddons Club" is filled with such nonsense and long-winded group scenes, building to no climax or purpose--it just ends. The cast, looking badly under-rehearsed, seemed as surprised as we were Sunday when the show came to a halt.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

* "The Siddons Club," Golden West College, Studio West Theatre, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach. 8 p.m Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, $9-$10. Ends Sunday. (714) 895-8150. Running time: 2 hours.

Laura Yarbourgh: Lynn

April Rameriz: Kim

Mark Aguirre: Michael Crail

Jeffrey Olin: Derek Higby

Wendy Siebel: Brit

Janice Lewis: Anna

Terry Muranaka: Mrs. Dunkerslot

Sandra Berge: Virginia Marchant

A Golden West College Student Theater production of Richard Wesley's play. Directed by Renata Florin. Set: Steve Silva. Costumes: Susan Babb.

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