The Queen of Venice View Court," the first segment of a planned trilogy, doesn't quite fulfill the mandate of the new Metropole Theatre Works, of which it's the debut work. Instead of "presenting original plays that have a contemporary significance," MTW bows with a sometimes trite, not terribly significant family drama.

The Metropole Theatre Works presents a drama in two acts by James Metropole. Produced by Donna Harazim. Directed by Metropole. Sets, Frank Doyno Chapa; lighting and sound, Michael Scheckner; musical director, Harazim; stage manager, Christian West. Reviewed Sept. 13, 1992.

Cast: Craig Kahn, Annie Rubanoff, Lawrence Toffler, Kathy Christopherson, Debra Lynn Shaeffer, Ingrid Boulting, Cathy Merriman, H. Carl Nelson, Elizabeth Rice, Scott Neisser.

The Queen of Venice View Court,” the first segment of a planned trilogy, doesn’t quite fulfill the mandate of the new Metropole Theatre Works, of which it’s the debut work. Instead of “presenting original plays that have a contemporary significance,” MTW bows with a sometimes trite, not terribly significant family drama.

Metropole’s earlier work, “The Darling of the Family,” about post-partum depression, would fit MTW’s self-definition better. In “Queen,” however, Metropole doesn’t seem sure what his topic is. He presents a varied bunch of characters, some quite interesting, but nothing really happens.

In common with “Darling,” however, “Queen” feels like a television wannabe. “Episodes” to come in this trilogy promise to continue the story of these characters, but Metropole had better work on his plotting. The “Queen” of the title is Victoria, who never appears but is the subject of frequent discussion by her four adult children, all of whom have different fathers.

Carson (Craig Kahn), the oldest, is dealing with his troubled marriage to Stacy (Debra Lynn Shaeffer) and having an affair with Myrna (Cathy Merriman). Journey (Annie Rubanoff), a guitar-toting lesbian, wants to find the father who deserted her.

Tony (Lawrence H. Toffler) is flirting with his mother’s friend Agnes (Ingrid Boulting) and trying to find work for his band. And Pepper (Kathy Christopherson) wants to be an actress, but she’s not sure how to deal with coach Guy’s (H. Carl Nelson) advances. The four siblings and the various people in their lives trek in and out of their mother’s large Venice home, deal with their problems, and try to agree on the Queen’s 50th birthday party.

There’s some sharp dialogue, but most of the situations remain underdeveloped (perhaps the consequence of this play being a third of the whole).

As a director, Metropole tends toward static staging and hyperactive gestures. This worked in his claustrophobic, prison-cell drama “Darling,” but this play is more naturalistic.

Standouts in the cast are Merriman as the sassy, not-to-be-messed-with Myrna, Scott Neisser as Tony’s sympathetic ex-girlfriend Jody and Nelson as the bizarre Guy. Of the siblings, Rubanoff is tough but vulnerable as Journey, and Christopherson appropriately goofy as Pepper. Toffler gets hammy at times but is overall capable.

The Queen of Venice View Court

(Gardner Stage; 70 seats; $ 10)

Production

The Metropole Theatre Works presents a drama in two acts by James Metropole. Produced by Donna Harazim. Directed by Metropole.

Creative

Sets, Frank Doyno Chapa; lighting and sound, Michael Scheckner; musical director, Harazim; stage manager, Christian West. Reviewed Sept. 13, 1992.

Cast

Cast: Craig Kahn, Annie Rubanoff, Lawrence Toffler, Kathy Christopherson, Debra Lynn Shaeffer, Ingrid Boulting, Cathy Merriman, H. Carl Nelson, Elizabeth Rice, Scott Neisser.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more