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Colonization

Dion Leone (Jonathan Nichols) and Mandy Bruce (Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan) are from different sides of the tracks--he's from working-class Detroit and she's from upper-crust San Marino.

Dion Leone (Jonathan Nichols) and Mandy Bruce (Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan) are from different sides of the tracks–he’s from working-class Detroit and she’s from upper-crust San Marino.

Their paths barely cross in the first act as Mandy is shown rebelling against her parochial and neurotic background, while Dion struggles to free himself from the emotional bonds of his Italian-American father.

The first act wanders somewhat aimlessly as Mandy and Dion journey through many of the predictable events of the 1960s and early ’70s — an interracial affair, promiscuous sex, drinking and drug-taking, all the while bouncingback and forth between the real world and the protective confines of home.

This section of the play is laden with wooden exposition as the characters get their coming-of-age stories out of the way.

The more promising second act jumps ahead to the 1980s when Dion and Mandy renew their acquaintance, this time after failed relationships and faltering careers.

The playwrights seem much more confident in the complex, textured arena of mature, conflicted characters and, as a result, the scenes begin to shine, particularly those that portray the shenanigans of the New York art world and the disillusionments of marriage.

There are a number of fine performances in this modest production. Jonathan Nichols is outstanding as Dion, displaying riveting focus to the character and handling the many scene transitions with care.

Richard Voigts does hilarious double-duty as Mandy’s WASPy father and the slick gallery owner who becomes her mentor and lover.

R.M. Rogers is also fresh as the gadabout artist, Cody Wyoming. And Roz Witt is effective in her dual roles as Dion’s mother and the beguiling art dealer, Greta.

Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan, along with the play, gets better in her performance as her character gets older, tougher and, ironically, more vulnerable. Direction by Majorie Hayes is well executed for what is essentially a workshop production.

While this is a promising first outing for the play, it would be better served by jettisoning some of the youthful, predictable first act in favor of the more matured, layered second act material.

Colonization

(Whitefire Theater, Sherman Oaks; 49 seats; $ 15 top)

  • Production: Hector Prods. presents a drama by David Lyon-Buchanan, with collaboration by Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan; directed by Marjorie Hayes; sets by Julia Beeding; costumes by Ruthi Yoda, lighting by Peter Sukovaty. Reviewed July 25, 1992; open-ended run.
  • Crew:
  • Cast: Mandy Bruce ... Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan Dion Leone ... Jonathan Nichols Mike Leone, Mark Edwards ... Alan Goodson Pete Leone ... Sam Vincent Dora Leone, Greta Abendorf ... Roz Witt Susan Bruce ... Kay Dennis Belle Bruce, Jane Leone ... Mary Stark Rod Bruce ... Richard Voigts Rae Jeffries ... Patricia Idlette Cody Wyoming ... R.M. Rogers David and Jennifer Lyon-Buchanan's romantic drama of the aging of the baby-boom generation is promising but uneven in this first production.
  • Music By: