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Humor, poetry and flashes of brilliance

June 05, 2003|David C. Nichols | Special to The Times

Distinctive authorial authority distinguishes "Ten Tiny Love Stories" in its world premiere at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre. Rodrigo Garcia's monologue cycle about love found and lost reveals an original voice of exciting potential.

Veteran cameraman Garcia is perhaps best known for writing and directing the film "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her," as well as "Six Feet Under" directing assignments. Such experience may have fed Garcia's knack for narrative conflict and quirky humor, but his comprehensive characterizations and poetic abandon are thrillingly individual.

Director Luis Alfaro, working with a fine design effort unified by Jose Lopez's lean lighting, invests the febrile material with deceptive simplicity, realizing Garcia's self-reflective women with elegance and eloquence.

So do the six outstanding actresses, initially spied upstage at the rose-dominated makeup tables grounding Kathleen Widomski's spare set. After establishing a recurring scattered-petal motif, they repair to the sidelines, visibly appreciating each other's solo turns.

Rose Portillo infuses her rueful divorcee with soulful wit, while Jacqueline Aries' sure timing sails her lost-virginity saga. If Camillia Sanes' dreamer is briefly written, her brash intensity is acute, and Maggie Palomo rivets at her Yucatan-borne traveler's reverie. Ivonne Coll's epic Mykonos vacationer astonishes; Denise Blasor's climactic loveless wife is coruscating.

The occasional post-larval irregularity pales beside Garcia's rich vein of talent, which Alfaro's forces mine for gold.

Although these "Ten Tiny" tales could bear expansion to a baker's dozen, the bridges their expert interpreters build between Garcia's dreams and ours are arresting, regardless.

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