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Swell

The problem is that they have few goals or needs other than sex. Marie's boyfriend, Bubi (Matthew Sheehan), wants to sleep with the always-serious Irene (Lili Barsha), who is jealous of Desiree's wealth and status as a duchess.

The problem is that they have few goals or needs other than sex. Marie’s boyfriend, Bubi (Matthew Sheehan), wants to sleep with the always-serious Irene (Lili Barsha), who is jealous of Desiree’s wealth and status as a duchess.

Desiree’s boyfriend Freder (Jason Adams) secretly beds the maid (Holly Orfanedes) and turns her into a happy hooker. Desiree really wants Marie. A tutor named Alt (Burr Steers) watches it all.

If you don’t read in the playbill (or here) that most of the characters are doctors, you might miss the fact, as there is little in their manner to suggest it. They are unlikable kids, a dark stone’s throw from “Melrose Place.”

While the action mostly takes place in Marie’s room, the set design by Marsha Ginsberg looks to be the remnants of a dairy or whatever was left over in the warehouse that is now a theater.

Unfortunately, the action appears as if through a strainer. Ends of sentences are often lost to the reverberation of the hard-surfaced and cavernous space.

The light design by Geoff Korf reinforces the chilly feeling. While director Bart DeLorenzo seems more concerned with didacticism than in emotions, he does draw from his cast a sense of pushing things to the edge and a belief in his vision.

A highlight are the vignettes set in today’s world, written by Valerie Ellis and Chris Campbell. In a modern psychology lab, Dr. Saltzman (Campbell) performs hilarious experiments that aim to find the source of people’s extreme behavior.

Also on the positive side, the seats are comfortable, and the sound system superb. Both the theater and the ensemble offer much potential. While the troupe may have misfired with this — erring on the side of “boldness”– one can sense seeds of a dynamic group.

Swell

(Evidence Room, Culver City; 99 seats; $ 15 top)

Production: Evidence Room presents a drama in two acts, adapted from Ferdinand Bruckner's "Krankheit der Jugend," translated by Natalie Pekas; additional text by Valerie Ellis and Chris Campbell; director, Bart DeLorenzo; producer, Mara Isaacs; sets, Marsha Ginsberg; costumes, Janice Benning; lighting, Geoff Korf; sound, Dan Sonis; choreography, Scott A. Vandrick. Opened May 11, 1995; reviewed June 3; closes June 18. Running time, 2 hours, 30 min. Marie ... Katherine Donahue Desiree ... Alicia Hoge Freder ... Jason Adams Petrell ... Matthew Sheehan Irene ... Lili Barsha Dr. Saltzman ... Chris Campbell Lucy ... Holly Orfanedes Alt ... Burr Steers Anew theater ensemble based in an equally new theater, the Evidence Room in Culver City, updates Ferdinand Bruckner's 1926 "Krankheit der Jugend" (Sickness of Youth) by sandwiching in segments set in today's world. The amalgam is retitled "Swell" and, while the acting is indeed swell, the play's cold and esoteric subject matter will alienate all but the most patient. The setting is Vienna, Freud's city. Women began to vote, and the U. of Vienna was the first school to accept and train women doctors. Marie (Katherine Donahue) and Desiree (Alicia Hoge) are about to graduate as doctors. The story revolves around the two women and their friends' transition to the real world, a postwar, cynical world in quick transition.

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