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Theater Review

Wedding Wit in Coleman's 'Reception'

January 31, 2002|PHILIP BRANDES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Love is something you go into with your eyes wide open and come out of with your eyes swollen shut," observes our caustic guide at a chic Ritz-Carlton wedding in Fritz Coleman's seriocomic monologue, "The Reception," at the Victory Theatre in Burbank.

Providing wry commentary on romance and other natural disasters is a perfect fit for the sharp-witted Coleman, best known as a local TV weatherman.

With assured, well-timed delivery, Coleman's character snipes amusingly from the sidelines at the foibles not only of the bride and groom (both refugees from previous marriages), but of their assembled families and ex-spouses as well. From the bride's bitter mother, who's "often mistaken for the ice sculpture," to the groom's sister with "husband du jour" in tow, Coleman's narrator chronicles a cross-section of contemporary relationships in a succession of quick sketches. Larry Kline's skillful direction sustains focus and pacing throughout.

Although Coleman is the only onstage performer, he employs a projected "photo album" to flesh out the other 18 characters (showing perfectly cast actors in typical reception poses)--an ingenious conceit that appropriately furthers the wedding theme.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Friday February 1, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Theater director--The director of the play "The Reception" at the Victory Theatre was incorrectly identified in a review in Thursday's Calendar Weekend. His name is Richard Kline.

Compared with Coleman's previous solo piece ("It's Me! Dad!"), "The Reception" is a more formal affair, in concept as well as staging. Both works rely heavily on Coleman's facility with clever aphorisms. "The Reception" is a work of pure fiction in which the narrator seems to have no personal stake. That changes in a dramatic pivotal revelation, which Coleman's poker face allows him to pull off with maximum effect.

Still, reserving it for the finale turns most of the show into a relationship-themed stand-up routine--a consistently clever one, but not the most judicious pitch to emotional involvement. Playwriting, like marriage, is all about balance and compromises.

"The Reception," Victory Theatre, 3326 Victory Blvd., Burbank. Saturdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends Feb. 23. $20. (818) 841-5421. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

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