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Theater | REVIEW

He really nails this performance

February 13, 2004|Daryl H. Miller | Times Staff Writer

As an actor, Tim Ryan has a job that enables him to touch other people's lives and leave something of himself behind. In need of steady supplemental income, he has been fortunate to tap into another profession that enables him to leave his mark on the world. He's a handyman.

"I'm here to fix things, make things better," he says in his engaging solo show, "All the Help You Need," at the Court Theatre. It's a profession that keeps him focused on the nuts and bolts of life, its impact written in the wonder, exuberance and -- while recalling an on-the-job brush with death -- torment imprinted on his face. Dressed in the roomy but tidy attire of his profession, Ryan brings his narrative to life by slipping into character as his clients: a lonely older woman whose offer of tea is a quiet plea for company, for instance; a stripper with a secret; or a thick-necked bruiser with the ominous nickname of Killer.

Moments of Ryan's acting life are mixed in, as when he humorously re-creates the string of monosyllabic witness-stand responses that typified his appearance on "The Practice." Mostly, though, he focuses on the handiwork that gives him "a feeling of accomplishment." Some of the early examples in the one-hour show don't exemplify this theme as well as they could, and the final minutes are freighted with an awful lot of paranormal import.

But as shaped by Ryan and director Christopher Fessenden, the moments leading into that ending are riveting. Tears glaze Ryan's eyes and his open, honest face clouds over as he recalls scary moments on the wrong end of a gun and the spur-of-the-moment heroism of a client who changed his life forever.

*

'All the Help You Need'

Where: Court Theatre, 722 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.

When: Tuesdays and Wednesdays and March 18 to 20, 8 p.m.

Ends: March 20

Price: $18

Contact: (323) 851-0762

Running time: 1 hour

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