DRINKING IN AMERICA
LA Weekly review by Neal Weaver on July 6, 2003.
Producer-director Leon Shanglebee insists, in a program note, that this Eric Bogosian piece is a play, not just “a monologue show.” It’s true that Bogosian provides a tenuous thematic unity, but his play does consist of 10 monodramas, performed here by nine actors. We’re introduced to a wide variety of characters, many of them addled with booze, dope or both. Act 1 features a guy (Milo Bianchi) experimenting with LSD, a hyped-up Hollywood agent (Patrick Hume), a well-oiled ceramic-tile salesman (Doug Sept), a military instructor of torture techniques (Ryan Honey) and an irascible Japanese restaurant owner (Mocean Melvin). Act 2 presents us with a fecklessly destructive druggie (Christian Levatino), an affectless suburban husband (Brian Scott Clark), a bitterly resigned junkie (Mancini Graves), a scary fundamentalist preacher (Levatino), and a manic DJ/concert MC (Phil Capone). They present a funny but scary view of America — but is Bogosian actively glorifying substance abuse? Shanglebee has assembled an impressive crew of actors (Sept and Levatino are standouts), and directs them with unobtrusive authority. One caveat: The space is small, hot, overcrowded, underventilated and, on the night I attended, every aisle was blocked. The management provides free beer and soda as compensation. Gangbusters Theater Company at the Next Stage, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Thurs., 8:30 p.m.; thru July 17th. JulyJuly 17.