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New York 243

After a lengthy scene of exposition in which Paul and Joe dutifully recount for the audience all the past history of the town, their families and their characters, Kenny King (Sean Ward Healy), the owner of the bar, bursts in with a string of obscenities, provoked by the indignity he has just suffered during a routine traffic stop.

With:
Cast: Jim Hatch (Joe the Bartender), Timothy Patrick O'Brien (Paul Geist), Sean Ward Healy (Kenny King), Daniella Kuhn (Ally Reynolds), Norma Michaels (Mary), Lawrence Lowe (Brother Light). J.D. Zeik's overwrought, vacuous and pointless drama, set in a bar in upstate New York, is poorly written and filled with cliched characters and dialogue. The script gets no help from the mostly weak performances and aimless, muddled direction by Darlene Young. The play opens with the stock situation of a hometown boy, in this case out-of-work actor Paul Geist (Timothy Patrick O'Brien), who returns to care for his dying father. He wanders into Geneva's Bar, which is run by the conveniently named Joe the Bartender (Jim Hatch), who is the son of the original bartender.

After a lengthy scene of exposition in which Paul and Joe dutifully recount for the audience all the past history of the town, their families and their characters, Kenny King (Sean Ward Healy), the owner of the bar, bursts in with a string of obscenities, provoked by the indignity he has just suffered during a routine traffic stop.

Kenny’s diatribe proceeds until he is interrupted by his girlfriend, Ally Reynolds (Daniella Kuhn), with her own diatribe, which very quickly escalates into an argument with Kenny about her involvement with a local new age group, Achievement House. The mostly silent witness to all this empty fury is Mary, the bartender’s mother, who has suffered a stroke and sits all day long at the bar.

The main complaint of these characters seems to be that they live in a hellhole in upstate New York and long to get out of there and go to more fascinating places like New York City or perhaps the Jersey shore. “Three Sisters” it’s not.

There is one sparkling moment in this wrenchingly empty exercise, which is the entrance of Brother Light (Lawrence Lowe), a leader of the Achievement House group. Played with some panache by Lowe, the self-help missionary launches into an entertaining sermon aimed at winning over Joe the Bartender. It is a fascinating but brief interlude in an otherwise painfully tedious evening.

Even the talented Lowe gets sucked into the black hole of this play as it descends into one trite plot twist after another, culminating in a standoff with guns in which two characters speechify with some of the worst dialogue uttered this side of a grade B action flick.

O’Brien, Healy and Kuhn give uniformly undistinguished performances, while both Hatch and Michaels have a couple of moments that rise above the muck. Director Young seems to have done precious little directing of the performances and leaves the tone entirely to the haphazard meanderings of the script. Production values are weak, even by Equity waiver standards.

New York 243

Production: New York 243 (Los Angeles Playhouse; 64 seats; $ 15 top) Los Angeles Playhouse presents a drama in two acts by J.D. Zeik. Directed by Darlene Young.

Crew: Set, Franco Carbone; lighting, Damian Anastasio; sound, Rich Comito. Opened July 19, 1996; reviewed Aug. 3; runs through Aug. 17. Running time: 2 hours, 10 mins.

With: Cast: Jim Hatch (Joe the Bartender), Timothy Patrick O'Brien (Paul Geist), Sean Ward Healy (Kenny King), Daniella Kuhn (Ally Reynolds), Norma Michaels (Mary), Lawrence Lowe (Brother Light). J.D. Zeik's overwrought, vacuous and pointless drama, set in a bar in upstate New York, is poorly written and filled with cliched characters and dialogue. The script gets no help from the mostly weak performances and aimless, muddled direction by Darlene Young. The play opens with the stock situation of a hometown boy, in this case out-of-work actor Paul Geist (Timothy Patrick O'Brien), who returns to care for his dying father. He wanders into Geneva's Bar, which is run by the conveniently named Joe the Bartender (Jim Hatch), who is the son of the original bartender.

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