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Theater Review

A Double Dose of Fraying Modern Relationships

Full Stop Collective skillfully tackles playwright Hank Bunker's 'Futon Dialogues,' 'Interview.'


When one of his characters--a frustrated writer --complains that "sequential narrative has nothing to do with experience," it's a limitation playwright Hank Bunker is determined to circumvent. His "Futon Dialogues" contorts chronology as a strategy for exploring a dysfunctional relationship.

Combining "Futon Dialogues" with Bunker's more linear but equally edgy "The Interview" at Silver Lake's Salvation Theatre, Full Stop Collective offers a skillfully staged plunge into this L.A. playwright's dark, elliptical style, through complementary sardonic portraits of modern couples.

"Futon Dialogues" is a series of encounters in which each of its two characters moves through time in the opposite direction. In each scene, the future awaiting writer Marle (TraceTurville) is the past for her slacker boyfriend, Peter (Mat Blair). As Marle tries to move forward with her life, exploring new possibilities and encountering setbacks (both external and self-imposed), Peter retreats into an increasingly narrow universe bounded by the dimensions of his comforting futon.

Trading incisive barbs as they wrestle with the aftermath of Marle's recent lapse in fidelity, the pair can't help but trip over one another's vulnerabilities.

Throughout, Bunker shrewdly uses the conceit that their histories never overlap, to exaggerate the gulfs in communication and understanding between them.

Turville's is the more intriguing performance here--not only is her character's forward-moving arc easier to follow, but she wrings an impressive range of emotional reactions from the abstract, absurdist context.

Blair's Peter is a more one-note portrayal, without the risks or rewards of playful character exploration.

In "The Interview," another alienated couple (Kyle Christopherson and Sarah Phemister) find their home invaded by a journalist (David Mersault) who wants to chronicle their lives in a magazine article.

Preying on their most primal desires, this Mephistophelean house guest alternates as inquisitor, seducer and destroyer of their increasingly frayed marriage. Trading the existential whimsy of "Futon Dialogues" for Pinter-esque menace, director Pete Konerko ensures atmosphere and tone are always appropriate to this challenging material.


"Futon Dialogues and The Interview: Two Plays by Hank Bunker," Salvation Theatre, 1519 Griffith Park Blvd., Silver Lake. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends April 21. $15. (323) 807-0101. Running time: 2 hours.

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