The Web

"The Web" aims to be a paranoid thriller, but lacks suspense and intelligent characterization.

Chris Ian Forester David Tony Sancho Kepesh Edgar Landa Warner Justin Huen Arrowsmith Stan Kelly Stephanie Betsy Reisz Lina Amanda Zarr

Michael John Garces’ play “The Web” aims to be a paranoid thriller, but unfortunately lacks suspense and intelligent characterization. The world premiere by NeedTheater is a protracted muddle that also suffers from lax direction and generally uninspired performances, although to be fair neither the cast nor the director has much to work with in this script.

Chris (Ian Forester) is surprised to discover that he has a near-double who mirrors almost every detail of his life. He’s sharing this disturbing info with his friend David (Tony Sancho) when the mysterious Kepesh (Edgar Landa) arrives to take him away for questioning. Later, Arrowsmith (Stan Kelly) shows up at Chris’ apartment claiming to be from another shadowy government agency and saying that Chris is in danger. As Chris falls deeper into paranoia, his sense of reality distorts.

Forester comes off as somewhat deranged from the start, and his twitchy perf never makes the character seem sympathetic. Landa and Kelly evoke merely mild menace, although Justin Huen has his dark, funny moments as a cruelly amused thug.

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Alex Gaines’ clever set resembles an intricate puzzle box, but R. Christopher Stokes’ lighting is often so bright that it makes Corwin Evans’ projection backdrop settings confusingly indistinct.

The Web

Art/Works Theater, Los Angeles; 70 seats; $20 top

Production: A NeedTheater presentation of a play in two acts by Michael John Garces. Directed by Alyson Roux.

Creative: Sets, Alex Gaines; costumes, Ariel Boroff; lighting, R. Christopher Stokes; sound, original music and projections, Corwin Evans; stage manager, Sara Gunderson. Opened, reviewed Sept. 17, 2010. Runs through Oct. 17. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Chris Ian Forester David Tony Sancho Kepesh Edgar Landa Warner Justin Huen Arrowsmith Stan Kelly Stephanie Betsy Reisz Lina Amanda Zarr

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