Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Theatre of Note
Through January 10, 2015
As in Aaron Posner’s beguiling Stupid Fucking Bird, which played at Boston Court earlier this year, David Bucci’s Possum Carcass riffs on The Seagull, transporting Chekhov’s story into the 21st century while holding on to the fundamentals of character, theme and plot. While nowhere near as brilliant or textured as Posner’s play, Bucci’s parody is very funny indeed, focused as it is on the takedown of the ubiquitous cult of celebrity in America and the I-wanna-be-an-artist syndrome that, if you live in Los Angeles, runs viral in our streets.
Pared to six characters, the action takes place on the roof and on various floors of an urban townhouse owned by Mona (Lauren Letherer), a famous soap opera star visiting from California. Permanently living in the house are her son Conrad (Kjai Block), a man of maniacal enthusiasms, and her former brother-in-law, Angus (Travis York), a special-effects dude with a penchant for cough medicine, his drug of the moment.
Conrad is an aspiring playwright, of course, in love with Nina (Nadia Marina), a bubbleheaded waitress with theatrical ambitions and a burning desire to meet Conrad’s celebrated mom and her dissolute writer/lover, Boris (Jonathan Lamer).
Coming to view Conrad’s play is Nina’s co-worker Lydia (Alana Dietze), a chill bohemian gal and the only one among the six who appears not to be self-delusional. Her only problem (it’s hinted) is a secret crush on Conrad, who’s oblivious to her interest in him – and indeed, to anyone and anything outside Nina and his writer-ly aspirations.
The importance of these fire-in-the-belly hankerings becomes clear after Nina muffs a line during a presentation of his latest mumbo-jumbo effort, a hilarious piece of silliness (and a highlight of this production). Conrad, already made edgy by Boris’s presence, goes ballistic at her mistake – a minor inversion in syntax – and the scene gets even funnier.
In fact, most of the truly comic moments in this spoof, which is directed by Alina Phelan, happen when Block is on stage. Others in the ensemble seem to have settled for surfing the wackiness of the script; only Block seems genuinely possessed with his character’s lunacy, which translates into a fiercely antic performance.
As Mona, the usually on-point Letherer seems miscast; she’s got the grande dame element down but the character’s patronizing air seems to belong more to a society doyenne than a soap opera queen. Dietze’s stony expressions are too minimalist to be interesting.
And designer William Moore Jr.’s set – generic black set pieces that get re-assembled in various ways – creates negligible ambiance when so much more is needed.
Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.- Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. (dark Dec. 22- Jan 1); then Wed.- Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Jan. 10. (323) 856-8611, or visit www.theatreofnote.com