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THEATER REVIEW

Healing power of 'Love'

The production at Open Fist turns its acidic elements satisfyingly sweet.

August 03, 2007|F. Kathleen Foley | Special to The Times

Diana hates her life, what there is of it. An agoraphobe who never ventures out of her messy Burbank apartment, she whiles away her time listening to floridly romantic porno tapes, baking novelty cupcakes to eke out her disability payments and cutting herself -- a dangerous habit she picked up during her nightmarish childhood.

Sad-sack Diana hardly seems a likely heroine for a rollicking comedy, but playwright Laura Richardson exploits the unexpected in "Do Do Love," her world premiere comedy-drama at the Open Fist. And if the title sounds vaguely scatological, that's purely intentional. Raised by an abusive, alcoholic mother, Diana (Daryl Dickerson) views love as the kind of thing people step in while traversing a hostile world.

The huge, handless clock that dominates Donna Marquet's effectively squalid set bespeaks Diana's stalled life, while J. Kent Inasy's superlative lighting and Jake Eberle's thrumming sound effectively underscore Diana's surrealistic fantasy life, her hedge against complete isolation. But intruders soon crack the lid on Diana's bell-jar existence. Her sister Francie (Samantha Bennett) leaves her husband and needs a place to stay, and her landlord, Felix (Andrew Schlessinger), sends in his handyman, Leif (Rhett Rossi), for an extensive bathroom remodel, hoping that the disruption will drive his problematic tenant to find new digs.

Of course, Leif is also coping with a traumatic past, and of course, he and Diana are destined to share their pain and make a fresh start. Don't let the inevitability of Richardson's plot put you off. Her acidic love story is no less than cathartic, a surprisingly sweet testament to the redemptive qualities of love. Director Mimi Savage plumbs every laugh in this stylish, brisk staging, while her richly naturalistic performers delve beneath the obvious eccentricities of their characters, exposing the universal commonalities that bind them in misery -- and enduring hope.

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'Do Do Love'

Where: Open Fist, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays

Ends: Aug. 21

Price: $15

Contact: (323) 882-6912,

www.openfist.org

Running time: 1 hour,

20 minutes

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