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Last Chance

July 18, 2002|David C. Nichols


Johnny on the Spot--The opening image of "Johnny on the Spot" at the Matrix is a glowing joint, followed by the toker's radio-announcer intonations. Thus the title character of Neil Landau's new play about a Peter Pan-syndrome poster boy's journey to maturity is introduced. Johnny (Jason Brooks) fears conformity, but the box is closing in. Neither his long-suffering pregnant girlfriend (Helen Cates) nor his pill-packing mother (Miriam Flynn) thinks Johnny is ready for fatherhood. Having just lost his insurance job, he quite agrees. Director Jules Aaron stages this post-Durang parable with sleek expertise. Brooks, balancing priceless stoner moments with inner anguish, is marvelously attuned to the affecting Cates. Flynn's locomotive delivery hijacks the house. Landau's quirky, assured script carries post-larval incongruities, the ghosts erratically integrated and Johnny's narration evaporating midstream. But merely the emotional tug of the inspired denouement disarms criticism, as does the immensely satisfying trip it concludes.

David C. Nichols


Ends Sunday at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, (323) 856-4200.

Also closing this weekend:

South Pacific--Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical of wartime and romance on an island paradise, starring Robert Goulet, ends Sunday at the Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (213) 365-3500, (714) 740-7878.

The Brothers--The ancient Roman comedy by Terence, translated by Christopher Pearson, about a classic parental dilemma ends Saturday in Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale, (818) 786-1045.

Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple--Neil Simon's new updated version of his classic comedy "The Odd Couple," starring John Larroquette and Joe Regalbuto and directed by Peter Bonerz, ends Sunday at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood, (310) 208-5454.

Peter Pan--The Saddleback Civic Light Opera production of the Broadway musical version of James M. Barrie's classic ends Sunday at McKinney Theatre, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, (949) 582-4656.

The Tempest--Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival production of Shakespeare's magic-filled play ends Sunday at Kingsmen Park, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, (805) 493-3455.

The Madness of Esme and Shaz--As a solitary British pensioner-turned-

caretaker for her troubled lesbian niece, feisty Patricia Fraser enlivens playwright Sara Daniels' uneven mix of gritty realism and fairy tale. It ends Sunday at the Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 957-1884.

Stranger--Brett Pearsons' psychosexual thriller about a pair of yuppies terrorized by an enigmatic stranger ends Saturday at Theatre/Theater, 6425 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 850-8969.

Titus Tartar--This intellectually stimulating take on Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" by German poet and playwright Albert Ostermaier ends at the City Garage, 1340 1/2 4th St. (alley), Santa Monica, (310) 319-9939.

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