The shenanigans surrounding the life of failed LA comedy writer Ron (playwright Eric Rudnick at the performance reviewed, replacing Danton Stone) can be likened to a more low-keyed version of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s macabre 1955 French film classic, Les Diaboliques. Finally having hit bottom in all aspects of his life, Ron’s self-flagellating narcissism finally has led him to concoct a jaundiced plan to create a successful existence for himself, which entails manipulating the lives of his wife (unseen); his 14-year-old daughter, Juliana (Brighid Fleming); his best friend, Phil (Tim Meinelschmidt); and his winsome mistress, Bridget (Murielle Zucker).
However, it is the ladies in the ensemble who steal the spotlight. Zuker’s Bridget molds herself into Ron’s psyche, seamlessly taking on whatever role necessary to make viable his risky plan. She then segues into a tangible portrayal of a soul in crises when having to deal with Ron’s teenage daughter who has weapons of emotional warfare Bridget is not prepared to combat.
It is easy to believe that Fleming’s Juliana has lived a life of constant emotional confusion, existing within a monumentally unhappy marriage. Her every utterance is infused with doubt and distrust. But when she is sure of her ground, Juliana glows within the process of totally vanquishing her foe. Even while triumphing, however, Fleming gives sad credence to the playwright’s inference that Ron’s biggest failure is robbing Juliana of the ability to be a viable human being.
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