Andre Tenerelli, left, Michael McCartney and Catia Ojeda star in "It… (Michael James Trimble )
I was going to refer to “It Is Done,” a play by Alex Goldberg currently running in a back room in Hollywood’s Pig ’N Whistle restaurant, as “site-specific,” but then I Googled the term. Yes, “It Is Done” is set in a bar, but not the Pig ’N Whistle, nor the Mean Fiddler Bar & Grill in New York, where it premiered in 2011 -- just a nameless, deserted dive. Any bar would do. So according to Wikipedia, the proper term is “site-generic.” But that’s terrible. So I propose “stage-free dinner theater.” You’re welcome.
You arrive an hour or so early and order drinks and bar food. Then they shut the door, and rumpled traveler Jonas (Andre Tenerelli, in an oddly low-key performance) bursts through it, seeking shelter from a storm and surprising the loutish barkeep, Hank (funny, charismatic Michael McCartney), in solitary erotic activity. Hank says he’s not used to customers, but moments later in comes a gorgeous woman (Catia Ojeda, reprising the role of Ruby from the New York production), to wait for AAA. Fending off Hank’s crass seduction, she flirts with reserved, defensive Jonas until he confesses his troubles.
About the plot twist that follows, I felt the way I do whenever a movie monster finally appears. Knowing just isn’t as scary as wondering. Yes, the twist in “It Is Done” is undeniably creepy. Also, I hadn’t seen it coming, and surprise goes a long way with somebody raised on '70s sitcoms. Michael Michetti’s good-humored direction, assisted by Jon Campbell’s sound and KC Wilkerson’s lighting design, eases the abrupt transition from grittily comic realism to an entirely different dimension. But I was still a little let down. Goldberg’s buildup made me expect a climax fully grounded in his location and characters; the one I got felt imported, even generic.
Ojeda digs into her role with such flair and relish, however, that I came around pretty quickly. She is Goldberg’s wife, so he has an incentive to use his gift for dialogue to put her in the center of attention, but she is so glowing, dashing and well-spoken that she would command all eyes even in a less dominating part. This is her Los Angeles theatrical premiere, and she deserves a much wider audience, so I hope that her work in Hollywood is not, actually, done.
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“It Is Done.” Pig ’N Whistle, 6714 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 7 p.m. Sundays, 8:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays. Ends June 12. $25. Contact: www.itisdonetheplay.com. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.