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Theater | Stage Review

'Something Green' Gets by on Whimsy

June 03, 1999|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In Zeitgeist Theatre Company's "Something Green" at the Whitmore/Lindley Theater, playwright John Benjamin Martin not only courts whimsy, he actively seduces it. His lively play achieves an impressive degree of lightheartedness despite its obvious structural flaws.

The piece is predictable. Stock characters abound, and the plot wends through overly familiar territory on a trip that takes a little too long. Yet Martin, who also directs, splashes what could have been a routine landscape with vibrant bursts of eccentricity, and his refreshingly screwball actors, who never met a stereotype they didn't like, plumb the eccentricities of their various characters with high style and great glee.

Clive (Boyd Holister), the owner of a chain of dry cleaners, has an active imagination and a wandering eye, the bane of his wife, June (Lucy Lee Flippin), who is beginning to feel like beef jerky alongside the spring chickens Clive persistently ogles. Unbeknownst to one another, the sexually frustrated Clive and June both indulge in private fantasies featuring lustful young lovers clamoring for their favors. In their Walter Mitty-esque reveries, the everyday bleeds seamlessly into fantasia, with frequently hilarious results.

Clive's fantasies are straightforwardly sexual: A beautiful doctor's assistant (Meg Bowen) sheds her whites and emerges in glittering scanties, bumping and grinding uninhibitedly while pleading for Clive to satisfy her. June's episodes are more romantically florid: Her marriage counselor, Ross (Ricardo Ibarra-Rivera), a creepy fringe type who plays with bugs, transforms into a sultry Latin lover of the most melodramatic variety.

Ross' "radical honesty" therapy results in an open rift between the couple. In the play's funniest scene, June and Clive face off, at Ross' urging, in a series of lacerating diatribes that leave their marriage in tatters. However, disastrous dates with a couple of moronic young singles (hilarious Rob Boltin and Jen Alexander) send Clive and June scurrying back into each other's arms, just in time for a sweetly sentimental ending.

Although certainly capable, Holister has his work cut out making the overwritten and pedantic Clive sympathetic. Flippin, a latter-day Billie Burke, all surface primness yet smoldering with comic longing, is the anchor tethering Martin's lighter-than-air vehicle to reality.

BE THERE

"Something Green," Whitmore/Lindley Theater Center, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sunday and June 20, 2 p.m. Ends June 26. $14. (818) 343-6967. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

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