Nina Sallinen, left, and Jim Kane in "Slipped Disc," a Green… (Beth Payne )
“Slipped Disc: A Study of the Upright Walk,” by prominent German playwright Ingrid Lausund, is the debut of Green Card Theatre, a new company dedicated to bringing playwrights from around the world to the attention of Los Angeles audiences.
The play, a guest production at Son of Semele, is the first of Lausund’s 30-odd plays to be produced locally. And although the aim of Green Card is definitely an admirable one, the present production disappoints.
Perhaps something was lost in Henning Bochert’s somewhat prolix translation, but despite a crisp staging by director Christopher Basile, the play is so philosophically dense that meaning gets stranded on the shoals of artistic pretention.
The tight knit and nimble ensemble, including Basile, Katelyn Gault, Jim Kane, Alexander Price and Nina Sallinen, plays office workers in a dog-eat-dog corporation that is not so much soulless as demonic. Red lights and screeching alarms summon various functionaries to an upstairs office, where they are subjected to various tortures and indignities, as evidenced by the cleaver neatly embedded in a worker’s back.
The play culminates with a series of self-referential monologues in which the characters ponder such wildly random subjects as sentient tea plants and the cosmic nature of ants. That meta-theatrical overlay may be meant to give weighty meaning to Lausund’s surreal vaudeville but instead seems a derivative dip into arbitrary Expressionism.
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“Slipped Disc: A Study of the Upright Walk,” Son of Semele Theater, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Also 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24. Dark on Thanksgiving. Ends Dec. 23. $25. www.sonofsemele.org/shows/slippeddisc.html. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.