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Review: Tensions arise, humorously, in 'Long Weekend' at Theatre 40

June 14, 2012|By David C. Nichols
  • John Mullen, left, and Shawn Savage in "The Long Weekend" at Theatre 40.
John Mullen, left, and Shawn Savage in "The Long Weekend" at… (Ed Krieger )

"This weekend is going to make a colonoscopy look like a treasure hunt,” says the reluctant host of “The Long Weekend” at Theatre 40. However comically overstated, it’s not far off the mark. Training his facility with one-liners and a crowd-pleasing formula toward character truth and narrative logic, playwright Norm Foster scores a bull's-eye with this tickling romp about mismatched spouses.

Meet straight-arrow Max (John Mullen, droll and proficient), the aforementioned host, an upscale lawyer with a new country house, which he and Wynn (Kathryn Larsen, adept and appealing), his therapist wife, can’t wait to show off. Trouble is, they’ve invited Wynn’s best-frenemy Abby (the hilarious Lizzie Peet) and Roger (ever-reliable Shawn Savage), her unemployed wannabe-screenwriter husband, and that bothers Max for reasons better left undisclosed.

Let’s just say that Max and Wynn’s double-edged assessment of their house guests is reflected by Abby and Roger’s view of them, and should a person find themselves unsuitably coupled, well, to covet your friend’s partner makes the sex farce world go 'round.

A fixture of Canada’s commercial stage, the prodigious Foster honors the conventions of light comedy without telegraphing its mechanics. His script here lands directly between Alan Ayckbourn and Neil Simon, even the shoulda-seen-that-coming developments coming up fresh. It doesn’t hurt that director Bruce Gray maintains an easy, percolating pace, which his first-rate cast observes with delightful élan.

Hardly groundbreaking, but there’s something endearing in this day and age about an escapist genre piece that keeps an audience involved and chortling. So goes “The Long Weekend," in its keenly played, smartly directed West Coast premiere a model of entertaining boulevard fare.

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“The Long Weekend,” Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 1. $25. (310) 364-0535 or www.theatre40.org. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.

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