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'Call Waiting' Puts Angst on the Line

April 13, 2001|JANA J. MONJI

If you're one of those people who cringe at the sight of people permanently attached to their cell phones, watching Dori Fram's comedy "Call Waiting . . . A Painful Comedy!" might be painful indeed. In this production at the Tiffany Theater, Caroline Aaron embodies the angst of a well-to-do, suspicious wife and mother of the bride, who thrives on continuous conversation made possible by call waiting.

Plagued by a chronic female complaint, Judy (Aaron) doesn't let being homebound keep her down. She reaches out and touches everyone she knows--kvetching, comforting and screaming accusations on her cordless while she paces the confines of her well-appointed bedroom. One can easily imagine Aaron's Judy surgically attached to a cell phone, shopping and gossiping away in the better stores of Los Angeles if she weren't trapped at home.

Call waiting opens the opportunity to show the fragmented angles of this character's personality as she veers from eager gossip to miffed sister, dumping a life's worth of emotional burdens in the flick of a switched phone line.

Director Joanna Gleason builds the humor from the Jekyll-Hyde personality contrasts as well as the potty humor and the obvious comfort of Judy's life, as represented by set designer Greg Richman's upper-middle-class bedroom. Although there are television references sprinkled throughout the script, the room seems oddly devoid of a television set. Maybe it's in the bathroom?

Although Aaron is funny, Fram's conceit wears thin as this tale winds toward the obligatory happy ending.

* "Call Waiting . . . A Painful Comedy!" Tiffany Theater, 8532 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 5 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Indefinitely. $30 to $37.50. (310) 289-2999. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

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