A Rage in Tenure

Into this complacent household comes Ani (Mariah O'Brien), 25-year-old feature writer for the local paper, just promoted from the food section and out to write an article on this controversial author.

Into this complacent household comes Ani (Mariah O’Brien), 25-year-old feature writer for the local paper, just promoted from the food section and out to write an article on this controversial author.

Upset to have been assigned to such an inexperienced reporter, Louise sets out to enlighten Ani, who’s perfectly happy dressing attractively and tending to her boyfriend.

The dialogue flies, characters develop interestingly and stereotypes are shattered as Louise and Ani confront one another while James pops in from time to time to intercede.

Lyman’s script shows real brains without being too literate for its own good; nobody drawn to this material in the first place will be confused by the numerous literary allusions.

However, some might be amused by James’ revelation that he hadn’t been exposed to such writers as Louisa May Alcott and Mary Shelley until he met feminist Louise — certainly he’d at least heard of “Little Women” and “Frankenstein.” Louise’s citing of groundbreaking American composer Amy Beach is more appropriate.

Some of the dialogue seems to give Kelly (a capable actor) trouble; no surprise, when he has to make lines like “We’re about to start a whole new life in many respects” sound spontaneous and conversational. Lyman, who wrote the words, has better luck with them; O’Brien’s lines aren’t so stilted.

Seemingly the least interesting character, the reporter reveals surprising depth as the play progresses.

Set designer Shelby Flint and decorator Julia Winston provide a comfortable apartment for the Ostermans, and Lark Lane gives Louise and Ani some snazzy, suitable outfits.

Assured direction is credited to first-timer Sharon Ernster.

A Rage in Tenure

(Theatre Geo, Hollywood; 88 seats; $ 20 top)

Production: Stuffed Olive Inc. & Sandy Shepherd present a drama in two acts by Dorothy Lyman. Director, Sharon Ernster; sets, Shelby Flint; lights, Marianne Schneller; costumes, Lark Lane. Opened June 15, 1995; reviewed June 18; runs through July 2. Running time, 2 hours, 10 min. Louise ... Dorothy Lyman James ... James E. Kelly Ani ... Mariah O'Brien Feminism gets a thorough going-over in "A Rage in Tenure," Dorothy Lyman's first play, which is premiering here. Weakest aspect of play may be its introductory section, which could be tightened up a bit, and conclusion, which may strike some viewers as a cop-out. But what happens in between could give the audience a lot to chew on. Protagonist Louise Osterman (portrayed by Lyman) is a professor who has just published a book on Virginia Woolf's marriage. (Play is itself an homage to Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," with the same academic setting and battling, literate characters.) Professor Osterman has resigned after a flap with fellow members of the tenure committee; her husband, James (James E. Kelly), is a chemistry teacher at a less prestigious institution who tends to household chores while Louise writes books, including "Born Female: Crisis, Curses and Condescension," and generally stirs things up.

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