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Revisiting Wildfire

Ostensibly the reunion of lifelong friends at life's crossroads circa age 50, production demonstrates as little sense of structure as its two characters share little chemistry.

With:
Theresa - Jamie Rose
Pam - Denise Crosby

A fraught situation, high emotions and a room in which two characters may confront each other do not a play make. This amounts to the only sad, sobering lesson to be taken away from Kari Floren’s “Revisiting Wildfire” at the Odyssey. Ostensibly the reunion of lifelong friends at life’s crossroads circa age 50, it demonstrates as little sense of structure as its two characters share little chemistry.

Recently laid-off Manhattan single gal Theresa (Jamie Rose) is reduced to boozy afternoons deconstructing the lyrics to Michael Martin Murphey’s 1975 one-hit wonder, “Wildfire” which, if you recall the song, shouldn’t require much deconstruction: “Oh they say she died one winter/When there came a killing frost….” Theresa claims to be days away from moving to Nebraska to stalk animal abusers — you can’t make this stuff up — though nary a packing box is to be seen.

College BFF Pam (Denise Crosby) arrives from Iowa, needing help. A standard rule of theatrical improvisation runs “always go for agreement,” but Theresa must set some kind of world record for denial: “I don’t want to talk about that”; “Let’s not talk about that”; “Can we change the subject?” A two-hander in which one character claims, “I’m not a very good listener these days” is, depend on it, going to be light on drama.

Eventually Pam reveals her big crisis. The women drink some more and score some cocaine (Theresa: “I’ll do it, but I’m against it”). Crosby works hard to try to keep things funny and real. Secrets are shared, tears shed, and audience wristwatches consulted as to when we can “leave sod bustin’ behind/Get these hard times right on out of our minds.”

Seventy minutes after it begins, we ride wildfire into the lobby.

Revisiting Wildfire

Odyssey Theater, Los Angeles; 99 seats; $30 top

Production: A Right Down Broadway Productions presentation of a play in one act by Kari Floren. Directed by Eve Brandstein.

Creative: Sets, Elisha Schaefer; costumes, Kathryn Poppen; lighting, Bosco Flanagan; media design, Adam Flemming; music, Roger Murdock; production stage manager, Susan K. Coulter. Opened July 9, 2011. Reviewed July 10. Runs through July 31. Running time: 70 MIN.

Cast: Theresa - Jamie Rose
Pam - Denise Crosby

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