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The Ice Pick

Opened, reviewed March 15, 1994; runs through April 19.

Opened, reviewed March 15, 1994; runs through April 19.

Peter … Michael Latimer

Michael … Doug Spearman

Tim, a Counselor, Man at Party … Stanton Schnepp

As part of the Shoestring Series in the Celebration Theatre’s first subscription season, the world premiere of John Roman Baker’s romantic drama “The Ice Pick” receives a fair mounting, sporting a strong cast under the talented guidance of director Jason Jacobs.

The presentation’s shortcoming is rooted in Baker’s redundant text. After offering an interesting premise and thoroughly examining both sides of the conflict, the play spends the rest of the evening chasing its own tail.

Peter (Michael Latimer) and Michael (Doug Spearman) meet through an HIV/AIDS support group and become romantically involved.

As Peter develops infections, he increasingly withdraws, leaving Michael frustrated and hurt.

Tempers become volatile, misunderstandings erupt, but in the end, Michael and Peter find a hopeful refuge in each other’s arms. With adroit direction decisions, Jacobs bonds his cast intricately in an emotional tug-of-war.

Latimer makes a difficult transition from sexually aggressive hedonist to the frightened, internalizing Peter, with the actor’s choices demonstrating control and precision. In counterpoint, Spearman’s hopeful, innocent romantic often pulls on the aud’s heartstrings.

Stanton Schnepp plays each of his characters as separate entities.

The play’s limitations are exacerbated by the fact that Michael doesn’t even know his HIV status. Why Baker chose not to make Michael negative and explore that dynamic — or at least examine the implications of his remaining untested — is a mystery. What we’re left with is a 90-minute one-act that should have ended 45 minutes earlier.

The Ice Pick

(Celebration Theatre, Hollywood; 65 seats; $ 10 top)

Production: The Celebration Theatre and Red Sneaker Prods. present a play in one act by John Roman Baker. Director, Jason Jacobs; producer, T.C. Murov.

Creative: Lights, Michael Shere.

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