Review: ‘A Bed Facing North’

Love finds cynical TV producer Doug Knoeffler relatively late in life and then abandons him in a cynical first play by TV producer David Knapp. This character study offers some decent writing and nice acting.

Love finds cynical TV producer Doug Knoeffler relatively late in life and then abandons him in a cynical first play by TV producer David Knapp. This character study offers some decent writing and nice acting.

Granville Van Dusen stars as Knoeffler, who is picked up by younger man Dan Cordarobles (Kevin Stapleton) while both are vacationing in Australia; happily for them, their homes — quel coincidence! — are both in Southern California.

Knoeffler is professionally successful but unhappily settled, alone; Cordarobles is “finding himself” and has two lovers: Rachel Ivers (Eleanor Cornegys) and a male flight attendant, who doesn’t appear onstage. And, Cordarobles isn’t exactly faithful to his two part-time paramours. Knoeffler inevitably falls in love with the younger man. This is not good; he’s in for a fall, etc.

The story is told in flashback after Knoeffler and Cordarobles’ current lover , aspiring screenwriter Dirk Lehman (Paul Haber), learn of Dan’s death in an automobile accident that may or may not be suicide.

Play is broken down into numerous blackouts, with characters breaking the fourth wall from time to time, speaking directly to the audience. At one point, Cordarobles refers to his and Knoeffler’s terse verbal exchanges as “Pinteresque.” Pinter wasn’t available for rebuttal.

Pinteresque or not, the script is overly literary: The uneducated Cordarobles at one point tells Knoeffler, “You’ve got no right to be proprietary.” Knoeffler , for some reason, finds the self-centered, inconsiderate and unfeeling Cordarobles to be inscrutable: “Not to know him is to know him.”

More interesting, better-drawn characters include Knoeffler’s friends Gil and Terry Pressman (Peter Vogt, Deborah Seidel), and beach boy Mike Vachon (David Sessions), an amusingly vacuous former lover referred to affectionately by Knoeffler as “my thimble-headed twit.”

Marianne McAndrew gets a couple of nice scenes as Dan’s mother, a failed chanteuse (he refers to her as a “mother from hell,” though she gives no sign of living up to the cliche), and Cornegys gives some character to Rachel.

Van Dusen and Stapleton give strongly stylized performances, rather at odds with the rest of the cast’s more natural delivery. Van Dusen’s is the kind of voice that other men dream of having: deep, creamy and with faultless diction; his acting style is distractingly reminiscent of Shelley Berman.

Play’s title refers to superstition that a north-facing bed brings ill fortune.

A Bed Facing North

(Court Theater, West Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 20 top)

Production

The Montecito Company, David Knapp and David Koch present a play in two acts by Knapp. Director, Stewart Moss; associate producer/design, Joshua Campbell.

Creative

Lighting, Joe Morrissey; sound, Leonora Schildkraut; music, Peter White. Opened Jan. 12, 1994; reviewed Jan. 16; runs through Feb. 20.

Cast

Doug Knoeffler ... Granville Van Dusen Dirk Lehman ... Paul Haber Dan Cordarobles ... Kevin Stapleton Elise Cordarobles ... Marianne McAndrew Rachel Ivers ... Eleanor Cornegys Terry Pressman ... Deborah Seidel Gil Pressman ... Peter Vogt Mike Vachon ... David Sessions
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