4Play - Theatre Review

By Bill Garry

Zoë Simpson Dean, Ariana Anderson
and Dustyn Gulledge
Photo by Kelsey Risher
The theater is set up like a night club - high tables and high back bar stools are scattered throughout. A few long, low platforms are around the edges. While you are seated, some beautiful people stop by and chat with you -- are they cast members or other patrons? Hard to tell. It is all very natural, very casual and easy.

Soon, a singer steps onto one of the platforms and sings Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things." A man and a woman weave through the "club," talking about casting a show. A one-night stand between two men is negotiated. Best friends act as "wing men" for each other. Women and men dance and couple. It's clear that the performance has begun, but it is so naturalistic and real that the audience (or are we just fellow night club patrons?) gets quickly swept away.

Director-writer Graham Brown and co-writers Nathan Faudree and Lisa Roth have fashioned an evening of voyeurism, gossip, conspiracy, arousal and empathy -- and that's just what the audience experiences. The characters -- known simply as "the director," "the ex," "the best friend," "the roommate," "the lesbian," etc., -- perform a comedic soap opera about coming out, putting up with, trying to impress, betrayal, and love real and imagined. It is simple. It is relatable. It is brilliant.

It is also hard to explain, so I am not going to try. Needless to say, the ensemble of actors do something remarkable, which is walk around and between audience members while inhabiting a character 100 percent. And these are not melodramatic Jane Austin characters (which are probably easier to portray), but rather contemporary "types" that we know and see and interact with in our daily lives.

I always say that Los Angeles has the most talented actors in the world. And that is not because they play in big-screen action movies and tear-jerkers. It's because they can walk among us and, by engaging us in their lives, remind us of our own.

Standouts in the exceptional cast are: Dustyn Gulledge, "the best friend," who you want to pull over to your table to hold his hand; Eve Danzeisen, "the girlfriend," whose textured performance (and performance within a performance) keeps you guessing while you fall in love with her; Ariana Anderson, "the lesbian," who you want to hang out and dance with; Zoe Simpson Dean, the romantic "roommate," who is desperate to fall in love and have a happily ever after; and Bevin Bru, "the little sister," who you just want to slap.

Graham Brown, the show's director and co-writer, also deserves mention for his performance. As "the director," the frumpy protagonist, he is arrogant, humble, and maddeningly wishy-washy.

The creative team earns applause, too, of course, for keeping the staging, the writing, and the acting simple and real.

"4Play: Sex In a Series" just finished its West Coast debut at The Actors Company in Hollywood. But keep on the lookout for their creative team and actors. They are worth watching in a show, or in real life, near you.

Posted By Discover Hollywood on March 19, 2018 10:00 am | Permalink