"J for J"--"Take care of him" or "Watch out for her," a parent says to a child, and with those words, a brother or sister goes from being a mere annoyance to a daunting responsibility. This obligation has fallen heavily on actress, director and now writer Jenny Sullivan, who, since girlhood, has been looking out for a developmentally disabled older brother, played here by John Ritter. Pondering their relationship in her autobiographical show, she considers how duty has tied her in knots through the years yet bound her more closely to her brother as well as to her parents.
Sullivan--perhaps best known for directing the premiere of Jane Anderson's "The Baby Dance"--returns to acting with a performance that vibrates with vulnerability and need. In a dignified, wholly convincing performance, Ritter confirms the gift for sharp characterization that he demonstrated as the friend and father figure in the movie "Sling Blade."
Daryl H. Miller
Ends Sunday at the Court Theatre, 722 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, (866) 545-8587, (805) 667-2900.
Also closing this weekend:
First Lady Suite--Michael John LaChiusa's musical peek behind the facade of presidential wives, produced by the Blank Theatre Company, ends Sunday at 2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., (323) 661-9827.
The Reception--Fritz Coleman's seriocomic solo show about a bride's second marriage to a groom married twice before ends Saturday at the Victory Theatre, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank, (818) 841-5421.
The Dazzle--Richard Greenberg's imagining of the lives of two brothers whose bodies were found among mountains of trash in a Harlem brownstone ends Sunday at South Coast Repertory Theatre, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555.
Guys and Dolls--The 50th anniversary production of the gangster musical, starring Maurice Hines, finishes its run Sunday at the Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (213) 365-3500, (714) 740-7878.