A review by Erin Fair.
Wes McGee and Brea Bee. Photograph's by Rance Brafton
"Dusk Rings A Bell" is the newest play from writer Stephen Belber. With a set of only the actors and two chairs, the play uses its austere background to its advantage. The audience's focus remains on the performances and we hang on to their every word.
The play opens with Molly (Brea Bee) who recounts her life in humorous discourse. Her quirks and personality easily shine through her dialogue as we learn of her profession and her desires. We soon learn of the kiss that lasted a lifetime with Ray, (Wes McGee) the charming local boy with whom she shared a deep, brief, and passionate night with, twenty-five years ago. When Ray enters, we quickly take an interest in his foibles and the meet-cute way these two characters reconnect.
Through lofty yet entertaining soliloquies these Nora Ephron - esque characters capture our hearts. Mr. Belber has an eloquent way with the English language that would make Woody Allen covetous. Unfortunately, after the forty-minute mark it results in the theatrical equivalent of having a mean child pop your balloon on your birthday. All of the life and vigor that he pumped into the first act quickly deflates. This is particularly saddening because, the one hundred and eighty degree deviation into dramatic fare was disingenuous and noticeably jarring. Mr. Belber betrays his characters and insults the audience with the abrupt shift in tone.
The performances, however, ring true and these actors with no set to hide behind bring their A game. Ms. Bee, takes her muddled character from amusing eccentric, to a snotty, uptight, shrew all while still evoking likability from the audience. Mr. McGee, was a wonderful foe for Molly's idiosyncrasies and provides a thought provoking warmness to a reformed man.
The play opens and closes with David Bowie's and Sting'sUnder Pressure and it is fitting as that is what Ray feels from Molly in the dreary second half.
"Dusk Rings A Bell" is a superbly acted and partially well written play, I just wish that the writer had kept up the high standard he set for himself in the first act.
"Dusk Rings A Bell" is playing Friday, Saturday, and Sundays thru March 13.
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
The Lounge Theatre
Hollywood, CA 90038