CA - About
eighty-five minutes into "Dirty Laundry," now playing at
Hudson Theatres, the play's two principle characters come to grips
with one of the most painful dilemmas a husband and wife could ever
have to face. All of the
plot's mistaken identity and confusion have been mercifully laid to
rest, and Stan and Donna for the first time grapple honestly with
their situation. The
confrontation is poignant, believable--even powerful.
But that's eighty-five minutes into a ninety minute play. Up to that point "Dirty Laundry" has spent its
energies trying to make frothy fun out of one character's
unfaithfulness, another's betrayal of religious vows, an immigrant's
misuse of the English language, and a woman's leaping past the
painfully obvious to conclude the improbable over and over and over.
I realize these are
all staples of comedy. But
it's amazing how tiresome they can be when the plot they serve is in
fact pretty disturbing. The
sitcom soapbubble bursts quickly when you know that sooner or later
the truth has to come out and a rather likable character is going to
be deeply wounded, if not destroyed.
In his program notes playwright George Albertella claims
"long years" of experience as a psychotherapist.
That background serves him well in crafting recognizable
characters with some complexity, yet adequate motivation.
the fact that he's "known some of the characters" in his
private practice might not have been a good enough reason for
Albertella to try and turn their troubles into a fun evening at
The central dilemma is just not the stuff of light comedy.
Some of Albertella's writing is interesting, as in the
flashback seduction sequences.
Too many of the laugh lines, though, are weak, coming not
out of the situation so much as the "every third line must be
funny" rule of sketch comedy.
We get too much of characters being dumb and not enough of
characters being witty. I
would suggest Mr. Albertella aspire to the Neil Simon of
"Prisoner of Second Avenue," rather than the Neil Simon
of "Your Show of Shows."
The acting ensemble brings energy and commitment to the
proceedings, its work well staged by director Steven Benson,
clearly a solid pro. Lee
Anne Moore as Donna calls the gifted Charlotte Rae to mind, and I
agree with her bio's claim that she's "born for
Paul Luongo has the look of a young Ricardo Montalban, and is
perfectly cast. Ruben
Dario is a little unfocused, but promising, with a funny Bronson
Pinchot sort of nowhere-in-particular accent.
Marc Ian Sklar is probably miscast physically, but works
hard in the role of Stan. His
best moment is that brief poignance near the end, which is sadly
done in by a flippant tag ending.
Theatre Company has made an odd choice of material for its
maiden production. "Dirty Laundry" has its moments, and also its
there's a lot of talent in place, a fine technical realization
of the piece, and promise galore.
Now if they could just spell the playwright's name
correctly on the program cover . - G.R. White
January 23rd through March 7th with performances
Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm and Sundays at
7pm. Tickets are $18, $5 off for Students and Sr.,
there are no assigned seats. Printable
For information and
reservations, call (323) 960-7745.
information & buy tickets on-line at www.plays411.com