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THEATER REVIEW

Fun, romantic humor even on a `Thursday'

Echo Theater Co.'s hourlong one-act moves fast through a flurry of soap-opera-style vignettes.

January 26, 2007|Charles McNulty | Times Staff Writer

No one captures the comedy of romantic misconnection better than Chekhov, though Adam Bock puckishly updates the genre in "Thursday," a loony game of love and loss, now playing at the Zephyr Theatre, that's a delight to watch even as you're reminded of just how painful it can be to play.

Winningly staged by the Echo Theater Company under the direction of Abigail Deser, this hourlong one-act -- a divertissement, really -- shapes up onstage as a series of rapid entrances and exits.

A group of friends with urban style and small-town lives is thrown into a tizzy when Marcy (Elizabeth Bennett), a former television star, returns home after another Band-Aid patch of rehab. George (Nino Mancuso), her ex, doesn't mind helping her get back on her feet, though his new girlfriend, Alison (Britt Erickson), is livid about it, as her neurotic hair-twirling makes clear.

Paralleling this amorous mess is the ongoing soap opera involving George's gay brother, Pete (a somewhat over-animated Christopher Shaw), a stalking pain in the neck who refuses to let Jimmy (Jeremy Maxwell) move on even though he was the one who dumped him.

Rounding out the roundelay are Janet (Emily Kosloski) and Charlene (Misi L. Lecube), a lesbian odd couple whose nonstop chatter and coffee slurps slowly but surely drive them apart even as they try to rescue Alison and George from a similar fate.

A sneaky stylist, Bock enjoys taking insignificant character ticks and ritualizing them so they shed light on compulsive behavioral patterns. Everyone, in his or her own peculiarly annoying way, is trying to stave off loneliness. But if it's not so easy to "only connect," to borrow E.M. Forster's words, it's even harder to maintain our tenuous connections.

The actors who create the most vivid impressions are those who don't overplay their fidgety hands. Bennett is particularly amusing in her explanation of how she doesn't really have a drug problem.

Her rationalizations for her multiple prescriptions sound, in fact, uncannily like those made in the throes of that other, more universal addiction for which there's an endless supply of sappy songs but still no cure.

charles.mcnulty@latimes.com

*

`Thursday'

Where: Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles

When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays

Ends: Feb. 18

Price: $20

Contact: (800) 413-8669 or echotheatercompany.com

Running time: 1 hour

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