Trust

This tedious exploration of life, love and sex within the world of rock 'n' roll might be better titled "Six Dysfunctional Characters in Search of a Plot." Playwright Steven Dietz has created some interesting personalities but fails to provide a viable structure for their life-anguished machinations.

With:
Becca - Mary Van Luven
Leah - Darlene Mann
Cody - Brett Hren
Gretchen - Marina Mouhibian
Holly - Jocelyn Jackson
Roy - Greg Woodhill

This tedious exploration of life, love and sex within the world of rock ‘n’ roll might be better titled “Six Dysfunctional Characters in Search of a Plot.” Playwright Steven Dietz has created some interesting personalities but fails to provide a viable structure for their life-anguished machinations. Helmer Vincent Castellanos (featured in David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive”) elicits strong perfs from a generally talented ensemble but has neglected to stage Dietz’s meandering vignettes with even a smattering of facility or fluidity. The awkward scenic transitions further sabotage the playwright’s limpid attempt to put on view the intermingling of these lost souls.

The one tenuous thematic throughline to the work is the impending marriage of Yuppie working girl Becca (Mary Van Luven) to rising rock singer/songwriter Cody (Brett Hren). Hovering on the sidelines are hard-bitten former rock diva Leah (Darlene Mann), youthful groupie-wannabe Holly (Jocelyn Jackson), straight-arrow public radio announcer Roy (Greg Woodhill) and perennially depressed dress designer Gretchen. As Cody’s mercurial rise to stardom absorbs his life, it lays to waste his commitments to love and fidelity, and reshapes the existence of those around him. In essence, nothing really happens except what is ponderously predictable from the outset.

Despite the mediocrity of the production framework, there are some memorable performances. Hren’s Cody exudes a fascinating understated charm and vulnerability as a performer who is constantly amazed at his own success. And despite his self-serving amorality, his overt jealousy over his fiancee’s possible attraction to one of her co-workers is quite believable. He is matched by Mann’s outing as bedrock realist Leah, who is as nonchalant about her fall from stardom as she is about bedding Cody.

Woodhill is appealing as perennial loser Roy, who is desperately attempting to hook up with Holly. One of the more comical highlights of the production is his unsuccessful NPR radio interview efforts to get Leah to expound on her music career. Jackson is perfect as woman-child Holly, whose physical attributes far outdistance her emotional maturity.

Not nearly as successful are the one-dimensional portrayals of Luven and Mouhibian. The former hits the emotional highs and lows, but never projects any amount of comfort or insight as Becca. We only know this lady is in love with Cody because she says so. Mouhibian’s understated and under-volumed Gretchen is so withdrawn she never appears to make contact with anyone else onstage.

Trust

Hollywood Court Theater, Hollywood; 99 seats; $15 top

Production: Thespyants present a play in two acts by Steven Dietz, directed by Vincent Castellanos. Producer, Carisa Engle; associate producer, Darlene Mann.

Creative: Sets and lights, Matthew C. Drake; costumes, Darlene Mann. Opened March 8, 2002; reviewed March 9; runs through March 31. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: Becca - Mary Van Luven
Leah - Darlene Mann
Cody - Brett Hren
Gretchen - Marina Mouhibian
Holly - Jocelyn Jackson
Roy - Greg Woodhill

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