You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Paradise Street

A kernel of a good idea and some strong performances, but the play has a scattershot quality.

Cast:
Jane - Molly Leland TJ - Lane Allison Mother/Wilma - Danielle Kennedy Policewoman/Lydia/Dorothy/ Jo-Jo/Aminda/Bus Driver - Jiehae Park Hitchhiker/College Secretary/ Mavis/Mega Mart Corp. Executive/ Woman 2 - Jane Montosi Nurse Andrea/Chai/Tammy/Marta/ Mimi/Woman 1 - Lorene Chesley

There’s a kernel of a good idea in Constance Congdon’s new play, “Paradise Street,” and it concerns how close the haves are to the have-nots and how swiftly societal positions can be reversed. But this idea is presented via a frankly unbelievable plot that’s so unfocused that one of the main characters gets lost in the tangle. The world premiere production by Title3 features some strong and amusing performances, and this new company shows promise, but the scattershot quality of the play overshadows this enterprise.

The life of visiting Marxist feminist theory/Mayan history professor Jane (Molly Leland) is about to change for the worse after she brings dour stranger TJ (Lane Allison) in out of the rain into her faculty housing apartment. TJ demands Jane’s car, and when the teacher refuses, TJ bashes her over the head with a stone statuette. Jane has to cope with permanent brain damage, while TJ’s life changes even more since she is mistaken for Jane and decides to play the part, reveling in a feeling of respect and power she’s never had before.

In an excellent performance, Leland succeeds at portraying Jane’s initial blithe condescension to TJ and her later deep frustrations with having to re-create her life piece by piece. So it’s frustrating when the play shunts the character to the sidelines as the action progresses.

TJ, representing the undereducated and angry poor, is written as an unpleasant thug, and Allison unfortunately doesn’t expand the role past that narrow description, although she has some fun with the character’s dark humor. Jane Montosi impresses both as a sympathetic but unlucky hitchhiker and a terminology-slinging professor, while Danielle Kennedy makes an indelibly hilarious mark as Jane’s elderly and selfish mother, who expects her newly handicapped daughter to do everything for her. Finally, Jiehae Park and Lorene Chesley turn in strong and funny work in multiple roles.

Although Congdon provides some clever moments, there are simply too many things stuffed into this overlong show, and the work never coalesces into a greater whole. Late in the play, TJ delivers a couple of speeches that make it seem as if we’re supposed to be empathetic to TJ’s plight. The character as written has been so morally repugnant up until then that this late bid for sympathy fails. Also, the main plot contrivance of students and faculty mistaking TJ for Jane, albeit an amusing bit of business, is simply unconvincing.

Director Courtney Munch keeps the focus on the performances, but a couple of strobe light sequences are singularly ineffective. At the performance reviewed, sound effects started and stopped and started again, sometimes within one scene, which was an unnecessary distraction.

Paradise Street

Attic Theater & Film Center; Culver City; 40 seats; $15 top

Production: A Title3 presentation of a play in two acts by Constance Congdon. Directed by Courtney Munch.

Crew: Costumes, Rachel Weir; lighting, Christopher Singleton; sound, Ryan Shields; production stage manager, Erin Gioia Albrecht. Opened Jan. 29, 2010. Reviewed Jan. 31. Runs through Feb. 21. Running time: 2 HOURS, 45 MIN.

Cast: Jane - Molly Leland TJ - Lane Allison Mother/Wilma - Danielle Kennedy Policewoman/Lydia/Dorothy/ Jo-Jo/Aminda/Bus Driver - Jiehae Park Hitchhiker/College Secretary/ Mavis/Mega Mart Corp. Executive/ Woman 2 - Jane Montosi Nurse Andrea/Chai/Tammy/Marta/ Mimi/Woman 1 - Lorene Chesley

More Scene

  • Made By Google

    Rashida Jones, Jaden Smith and More Stars Party at Made by Google Opening Night

    There’s a kernel of a good idea in Constance Congdon’s new play, “Paradise Street,” and it concerns how close the haves are to the have-nots and how swiftly societal positions can be reversed. But this idea is presented via a frankly unbelievable plot that’s so unfocused that one of the main characters gets lost in […]

  • 'Boo 2! A Madea Halloween' film

    Tyler Perry Hopes 'Boo 2!' Can Help Bring Laughter to Nation's 'Darkness'

    There’s a kernel of a good idea in Constance Congdon’s new play, “Paradise Street,” and it concerns how close the haves are to the have-nots and how swiftly societal positions can be reversed. But this idea is presented via a frankly unbelievable plot that’s so unfocused that one of the main characters gets lost in […]

  • 'Geostorm' film premiere

    'Geostorm' Director Hopes Harvey Weinstein Scandal Signals 'Sea Change' for Hollywood

    There’s a kernel of a good idea in Constance Congdon’s new play, “Paradise Street,” and it concerns how close the haves are to the have-nots and how swiftly societal positions can be reversed. But this idea is presented via a frankly unbelievable plot that’s so unfocused that one of the main characters gets lost in […]

  • ‘Working Above The Line’ panel, The

    Academy's Third Annual Careers in Film Summit Inspires Young Creatives

    There’s a kernel of a good idea in Constance Congdon’s new play, “Paradise Street,” and it concerns how close the haves are to the have-nots and how swiftly societal positions can be reversed. But this idea is presented via a frankly unbelievable plot that’s so unfocused that one of the main characters gets lost in […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content