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The Audit

Leonard Mills (Carl Strano) is dying. Nearly everyone in his family thinks of him as an S.O.B. His first wife, Myra (Joan Benedict), still detests him for saddling her with debt and leaving her for a Playboy bunny. Daughter Janey (Karen Reed), an angry, litigious young woman, hates him for his lying.

With:
Leonard Mills ... Carl Strano Myra Mills ... Joan Benedict Sol Millstein ... Elliott Goldwag Bambi ... Linda Phillips Janey Mills ... Karen Reed Stephen Mills ... Joe Garcia Margaret ... Carolyn Field Nurse/Clarisse ... Cynthia Newton Doctor/auditor ... Gene Freedman Billed as a comedy, "The Audit," by Peter Lefcourt, seriously tackles the value of a person's life, with the humor drawn from character. Under Jeremiah Morris' able direction, the play shows Lefcourt as a strong theatrical talent.

Leonard Mills (Carl Strano) is dying. Nearly everyone in his family thinks of him as an S.O.B. His first wife, Myra (Joan Benedict), still detests him for saddling her with debt and leaving her for a Playboy bunny. Daughter Janey (Karen Reed), an angry, litigious young woman, hates him for his lying.

Gay son Stephen (Joe Garcia) abhors Leonard’s lack of communication and compassion. Even father Sol (Elliott Goldwag) recognizes Leonard’s shortcomings and finds horse racing more interesting than his son’s health.

And then Leonard dies. As the auditor (Gene Freedman) and his assistant (Cynthia Newton) randomly choose moments from his life, one senses that Leonard has had a major and often positive impact on these people.

The play is the fourth for Lefcourt at Actors Alley. The others, “Only the Dead Know Burbank,””La Ronde de Lunch” and “Sweet Talk,” showed he has a razor-sharp ear for dialogue, but they did not satisfy in the end as well as this one.

Lefcourt perhaps skewers bureaucracy a few too many times, particularly with the nurse/assistant refrain, “I’m not authorized to give out that information.” Still, he’s created a touching and affecting piece.

The characters each have their own vivid flavor: Benedict’s acerbic Myra, second wife Bambi (played skillfully by Linda Phillips), Janey (played with appropriate hardness by Karen Reed), and the latest woman in Leonard’s life, played poetically and nearly wordlessly by Carolyn Field.

Director Morris paces the action well and usesthe thrust stage to advantage.

Production values are higher than in many past Actors Alley productions. Pavel Vogler’s set design creates a kind of “No Exit” hospital waiting room. Lighting design by Chuck Wilcox and sound design by Steve Shaw also rate well.

The play was scheduled to open at Actors Alley’s new theater complex, the refurbished two-stage El Portal in North Hollywood, but the Jan. 17 earthquake caused about $ 1.5 million in damage to the site. “The Audit” and the next offering, Thurber’s “The Male Animal,” are using L.A. Valley College’s comfortable theaters.

The Audit

(Actors Alley at L.A. Valley College, Van Nuys; 99 seats; $ 18 top)

Production: Actors Alley presents a comedy in two acts by Peter Lefcourt; directed by Jeremiah Morris; supervising producer, Shirin Amini.

Creative: Sets, Pavel Vogler; lighting, Chuck Wilcox; sound design, Steve Shaw; costumes, Zale Morris. Opened, reviewed March 4, 1994; runs through March 27.

Cast: Leonard Mills ... Carl Strano Myra Mills ... Joan Benedict Sol Millstein ... Elliott Goldwag Bambi ... Linda Phillips Janey Mills ... Karen Reed Stephen Mills ... Joe Garcia Margaret ... Carolyn Field Nurse/Clarisse ... Cynthia Newton Doctor/auditor ... Gene Freedman Billed as a comedy, "The Audit," by Peter Lefcourt, seriously tackles the value of a person's life, with the humor drawn from character. Under Jeremiah Morris' able direction, the play shows Lefcourt as a strong theatrical talent.

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