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Theater Review

Actors Fill In Gaps in 'What I Did for Love'

September 12, 2002|DARYL H. MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Acting opens floodgates that can be difficult to close again. When emotions are sent surging forth night after night on stage, they tend to do the same at home. An actor's life, as a result, can become one big drama.

Joe Pintauro takes a look at this tendency to treat the world as a stage in six short plays, collectively titled "What I Did for Love," at McCadden Place Theatre.

The stories are written with insight and wit--qualities that help explain why Pintauro's plays, such as "Raft of the Medusa" and "The Dead Boy," are presented so regularly in Los Angeles.

Yet points aren't clearly made and resolutions are left dangling in this often frustrating and unsatisfying program.

The better tales include "$20 Drinks," in which an effusive Oscar winner (Carolyn Hennesy) gradually lets an old friend (Laura Skill) see the vulnerability beneath her glamorous veneer.

Similarly, Priscilla Barnes, playing a once-famous actress in "Meeting Toby," exposes the enormous reserves of emotion that underlie her seemingly psychotic behavior during a dinner with her ex-husband (Lee Ryan) and his new girlfriend (Jenifer Kingsley).

In the still better "Serious Drama," an actress (P.B. Hutton, replacing the regular Patty McCormack at the performance under review) has just been savaged by a prominent critic and informed that the show will quickly close.

So she's feeling blue when she reports for her day job screening candidates for a performing academy.

The first applicant turns out to be a priest (Brian Coughlin), whom she's ready to send packing until his enthusiasm for the profession begins to restore her lost faith.

In this story as in the others, fine performances--under Geo Hartley's nurturing direction--fill in some of the gaps in the writing. The other actors are Rod Britt, Kyle T. Heffner, Juliette Jeffers, Jay Lacopo, Dolorita Noonan, Justine Reiss and Nick Salamone.

The play shares its set (by Daryl Latter) and scene-change music (by Max Baxley) with the musical "Twisted," which takes over the stage on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.

*

"What I Did for Love," McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Sept. 29. $15. (310) 275-9887. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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