Reasons

The story is straightforward and universal. Mark (Howard Love) and his girlfriend Fe Fe (Niecey Nash) are continually interrupted in the midst of their lovemaking by telephone calls from Mark's friend Sandy (Robina Alston).

With:
Mark ... Howard Love Sandy ... Robina Alston Jason ... Darron Johnson Fe Fe ... Niecey Nash Tom ... Carl Gilliard Melissa ... Dawn McFarland Michael Ajakwe Jr.'s bedroom comedy is notable mostly for the lively audience reaction it provokes, with audience members shrieking with recognition at the action of one character, and at the next moment shouting out withering retorts to the dialogue of another.

The story is straightforward and universal. Mark (Howard Love) and his girlfriend Fe Fe (Niecey Nash) are continually interrupted in the midst of their lovemaking by telephone calls from Mark’s friend Sandy (Robina Alston).

Although Mark protests that Sandy is nothing but a “good friend,” neither Fe Fe nor Mark’s buddy Tom (Carl Gilliard) is convinced. When Sandy breaks up with boyfriend Jason (Darron Johnson) and moves in with Mark, the boundaries of their friendship are tested.

While the story is familiar and the action of the play is slight, the energetic participation of the audience — which quickly chooses sides, voicing opinions on every twist of the plot or attitude of the characters — fires up the actors and makes for an unusual and enjoyable evening.

Howard Love shows considerable talent for physical comedy as the conflicted guy who can’t seem to make his mind up between two women. Nash comes on strong as the girlfriend who is not buying yet another smooth line from her man.

Alston is innocently seductive in her role as the other woman, and Gilliard and Johnson each have nice turns, respectively, as the best friend and rival. McFarland is also effective in a small cameo role.

The play, which originated as a neighborhood production in L.A.’s Rogers Park , is old-fashioned in every sense of the word. The characters are stock comedic types — the lovesick weakling, the domineering girlfriend, the seductive other woman, the goofy sidekick and the villainous rival — and the romantic triangle story is both timeless and tired.

However, the play, as performed for an audience that boos the villain and both cheers and jeers the hero, becomes good, old-fashioned fun. The audience here is the main actor in a very simple, down-to-earth morality play about right and wrong in the treacherous turf of romantic love.

Writer Ajakwe also directs the production, which is simply staged. The brief, multiple scenes of the play are strung together by musical interludes arranged by musical director Charles Green.

Reasons

(Grand Theater, L.A. Trade Tech College, L.A.; 1,500 seats; $ 22 top)

Production: Piedmont Prods. presents a comedy in two acts written and directed by Michael Ajakwe Jr.; producers, Ajakwe, Howard Love.

Creative: Musical director, Charles Green; sound supervisor, Mark Laurent; wardrobe supervisor, Dawn McFarland. Opened July 2, 1993; reviewed July 3; runs through July 11.

Cast: Mark ... Howard Love Sandy ... Robina Alston Jason ... Darron Johnson Fe Fe ... Niecey Nash Tom ... Carl Gilliard Melissa ... Dawn McFarland Michael Ajakwe Jr.'s bedroom comedy is notable mostly for the lively audience reaction it provokes, with audience members shrieking with recognition at the action of one character, and at the next moment shouting out withering retorts to the dialogue of another.

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