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L.A. Theater Review: ‘Icebergs’

Set in hip Silverlake, “Icebergs,” now making its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, offers plenty of laughs with witty dialogue and a knowing scenario about a showbiz couple, an indie director and a rising actress who are hosting the director’s college roommate from Missouri. The actress’ friend, who hurriedly married an AirBnB guest, and his agent provide plenty of laughs. But there is a dark undercurrent as the director tries to stay true to his film and the wife wonders whether she should bring another life into a world where the threat of climate change is looming large.

Alena Smith’s play, directed by Randall Arney, stars Nate Corddry as the director, Jennifer Mudge as his wife, and Keith Powell as their guest. At first things seem to be going well as college roommates Calder (Corddry) and Reed (Powell) catch up on each other’s lives. Reed really wants to live it up during his visit, and the pair decide to go to a Day of the Dead party. But first they need costumes, and where better to go than L.A.’s own 99 Cents Only Stores.

The lighthearted tone shifts when Mudge’s Abigail enters the scene. She is so agitated about the coming climate doom that she’s had a panic attack. While on the surface this seems a stereotypical portrayal of Tinseltown with a visiting African American friend (from Missouri) to tie it all to current events, you can nonetheless see the genuine feelings below the panic as Abigail veers from rejecting her pregnancy to wanting a child, and Calder goes from accepting a mainstream actress for his lead to pitching his wife, who would be perfect for the role. Reed stops partying to talk about his real fears for his children, growing up in a world in which young black men are facing so much violence, especially in the hinterlands.

Through it all Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, as Calder’s agent Nicky, provides great laughs as he delivers zingers with perfect timing, hitting on Abigail’s friend (Rebecca Henderson) and then agreeing to take her cat, Taco.

Smith, who has written for such TV series as HBO’s “The Newsroom,” shows impeccable comic timing, and also knows how to layer her drama with pathos. Under Arney’s direction all the actors get a chance to shine, but no one grabs the spotlight like Near-Verbrugghe.

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