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Suzanne Collins and David Mingrino in Strangers No More, Write Act Repertory at the Brickhouse Theatre. (Photo by Linda Rand)
Suzanne Collins and David Mingrino in Strangers No More, Write Act Repertory at the Brickhouse Theatre. (Photo by Linda Rand)

Madness, Mayhem and Other Stimulants…When Women Write

Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Write Act Repertory at the Brickhouse Theatre
Through Oct. 1

This program of one acts by Linda L. Rand is part of Write Act Repertory’s summer playwrights lab festival. This year the festival features plays by women in the company. This review is for Series A, which has closed; Series B and Series C are by Susan C. Hunter and Rachel Perry, respectively.

Rand has given her work the banner title Diversions of Life. It consists of 7 short comedy sketches. The most successful — “Strangers No More,” directed by Arden Teresa Lewis — is an encounter between Gil (David Mingrino), a down-on-his-luck homeless man, and Gloria (Suzanne Collins), a well-off elderly widow who brings Gil back to her living quarters with an unusual purpose in mind. Collins is excellent as the dignified determined Gloria, and stays thoroughly believable despite the improbable setup.

In “Running All Stops,” directed by Harris Shore, two flirtatious senior citizens, Toots (Dianne Travis) and Sam (Shore) get to know each other at a speed dating event and learn they have more in common than either ever possibly conceived. The piece is overwritten, but the performers do a good job of maintaining the pace.

“All Propped Up,” directed by Fran Freedman, features Georgia Ann Silva as Mindy, a woman with a desperate crush on her good-looking roommate, a narcissistic actor (Tatum Shank). After knocking herself out every which way to please him, she finally aggressively confronts him. Shank’s rendering of a self-absorbed guy who uses people without thinking twice about it is crisp and well-delineated.

“That Sinking Feeling,” directed by Lewis, takes place on a ferry where a woman (Nancy Lantis) with a phobia about being on boats is undergoing desensitizing therapy with her psychologist (Clara Rodriguez). The same joke is replayed once too often and Lantis needs to dial it down.

In “Searching for Mrs. Pan,” Lantis plays Cindy, a fairy tale character who’s fed up with fantasy and romance (another woman, Cindy Ella, snagged the Prince, not she). She arrives at an indeterminate place where she’s greeted by a robotic figure, Frank (Tinks Lovelace), an operative for a colony of sexless beings who exist outside time. The play, which includes fragments of several fairy tales, seems to be an effort to juxtapose fantasy with sci-fi, but the sci-fi part especially is too vague to be satisfying.

“Valentine at the Titanic,” directed by Freedman, is set in a restaurant named The Titanic. Two men, Leo (David Willis and Don [Shank]) are intending to propose to Kat (Rodriguez) and Donna (Ashley Taylor) respectively, but are thrown off their game when the ladies register various objections. The piece gets a lift from Taylor’s fluttery turn as Donna.

“The Fat Lady Ain’t Hummin’” is an overextended piece with a retro premise. It’s about a goodhearted waitress, Jane (Maria Kress), resigned to never finding the right guy. Dianne (Marcia Rodd) is one of her regular customers, an older woman who tries to buoy Jane’s spirits with talk of romances that flourished in people’s later years. Meanwhile, Brad, a trucker (Mingrino), has happened into the café and has been eying Jane appreciatively. Will it come together for Jane and Brad? It’s hard to care.

Write Act Repertory at the Brickhouse Theatre, Peach Tree Lane, North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Oct. 1.  or 1-800-838-3006. Running time: 2 hours with an intermission.