Apartment 6 & 9 Theatre Review - Two Great Comedies Land at the Lounge Theatre

KADM Productions (Kings and Desperate Men) brings the a delightful duo of One-Act plays to the Lounge Theatre under the appropriately suggestive banner, Apartment 6 & 9. These two New York stories are dedicated to the complicated and often comically oxymoronically condition that is Couplehood.

Marital Bliss Without the Marriage?

All Aboard the Marriage Hearse A pas de deux

Sean and Amy have just come from another wedding where she caught the boutique and he caught the garter. A little drunk and a little lustful, our perfect couple for almost three years scramble for wine and good music to have a little ceremony of their own. It’s only when Sean, “mistakenly” assumes the position down on one knee that things derail from what would have otherwise been a very romantic evening.

All of a sudden, Amy (Jessica Moreno) wants to get married. Sean (Keenan Henson) successfully parries her advances with his quick wit and the irrefutable fact that he has always told her that he does not believe in marriage. But Amy thinks it’s time to change his mind. So because they love each other, and because they are both reasonable people, they set forth to have the talk, for the last time: to wed or not to wed.

Keenan Henson & Jessica Moreno in "All Aboard the Marriage Hearse"

Amy argues propriety, the chance to live out the princess for a day fantasy, and above all, that Sean should do it for her precisely because it means nothing to him but everything to her. Sean, happy to just live like a married couple, cites his distaste for rituals and conformity, reluctantly points to his own parents’ miserable marriage as exhibit A, and moreover, proclaims that marriage can’t and won’t guarantee that they will be in love forever.  What starts out as playful and intellectual discussion turns intense and emotional brawl. And then they take the gloves off.

This was a prize fight of all prize fights: two smart, sensitive, sensible people on opposite sides of the marriage question. And the purse at stake was love.  In fact, the power of this piece is the power of the love between this couple. It is a rare treat to see two performers so superbly matched as Jessica Moreno and Keenan Henson. Both actors displayed acute synchronicity of rapport, and what can only be described as patience, in the organic way they moved through the broadly varied beats within the play.  Neither character is played is a pushover, nor as a bully. On the contrary, the characters of Amy and Sean are crafted by Moreno and Henson as quite likable, fun, and human, and portrayed with a jaw-dropping show of emotional stamina. Henson and Moreno’s performances provide ample credibility of how a couple can be deeply, committedly in love, yet vehemently disagree in the best way to reserve that love. 

All Aboard the Marriage Hearse takes this couple into the fiery depths of what marriage is as a relationship, sojourning through cliché and insecurity and passion. You don’t quite know who these people will be if and when they emerge on the other side. Writer/Director Mark Morillo (Angry Young Women in Lose Rise Jeans with High Class Values) expertly preserved the fine balance in the script between pain and tenderness, without ever forsaking levity. And perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the piece is that it does not necessarily end the way an audience might think it would. This was truly an exquisite piece of theatre. Well done.

Stay Over -  a pas de Trois

If you are paying attention, you will be thoroughly exhausted by intermission. Fortunately, the second One Act on the bill provides far lighter fare in a screwball comedy that has just as much to do about relationships as it does to do about… poker.

(l to r) Tom Pilutik, JessAnn Smith & Jessica Moreno in "Stay Over"

In Stay Over (Matt Morillo’s playscript adaptation of Maria Micheles’ Sleepover [2007]), Michelle (Jessica Moreno, again) reluctantly  comes crawling back to her beau Mark.  The gifted photographer made the mistake of giving him permission to have a fling. She tries to make Mark squirm by making him describe the affair before she officially forgives him. But Mark knows she is bluffing; her tell, she came back to him in the middle of a snow storm. Mark (Tom Pilutik) is that obscenely rich guy who just keeps getting all the great cards dealt to him. He is great at bluffing, especially when it comes to his two current “playmates”.

Entering out of the cold is Lily (JessAnn Smith), the partner in his “one time” fling and shockingly, Michelle’s quasi-little cousin. Lily is the reasonable one. She is calm, cute, young, sex and quite happy to stay or leave since she was the one who dropped by Mark’s place unexpectedly. Her insecurity read on Michelle is dead-on. For her part, she does not have a tell. She may be telling the truth when she says that she and Mark are just friends now, or maybe not. She is easy, uncomplicated, free… and getting freer with every sip of whiskey she drinks.

The trio go round and round about who should stay and who should go and exactly how bad and dangerous it is outside in the blizzard. This play can perhaps be described as an R-rated version of Friends, decidedly tilted to the absurd. The only question is: will each character know when to cash in their chips before they lose their shirt... or blouse... or diginity...

The genie is out of the bottle (and out of her clothes) in "Stay Over"

This one goes out to all the girls who keep going back to the wrong guy. You know who she is; she may even be you. Stay Over is pure slapstick fun where all three characters change their minds regularly (and I mean like all of them, every three minutes or so). They all flirt with insecurity and betrayal and defiance, wavering on whether to stay, to go, to truce. And it’s pretty clear that all of them were planning on getting laid at some point in the evening. But with whom and where and why – changing every three minutes. This one was a lot of fun.

Apartment 6 & 9, an evening of New York comedies makes its West Coast Premiere now through July 5, 2009 at:

Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 7pm

(No Performance on July 4th)

Tickets $25 General Admission
Reservations: (323) 960-5521 or www.kadm.com

www.theatreplanners.com

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