Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Echo Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre
Extended through March 26
Kate Morgan Chadwick makes an arresting entrance as she slithers alluringly across the floor at Atwater Village Theatre, climbing onto the large white bed (Se Oh’s scenic design) that serves as the focus for the action in Sheila Callaghan’s fiercely feminist one-act.
Wild, tousled-haired and titillating, the captivating Chadwick plays Holly, a talented singer-songwriter scornful of convention and seemingly without the need to connect with others that marks the nature of most folks, women especially.
Hitherto promiscuous, Holly’s life alters after a one-night stand with Cliff (TW Leshner), a nice fellow who happens to have a talent for making her happy in bed. Callaghan’s play tracks the relationship from its tentative beginnings through their 10-year marriage, during which time Holly’s career takes off, the couple have a daughter, and Holly perversely betrays Cliff with his more dominating brother, JC (Jonathan McClain).
Callaghan writes with panache, and the sex scenes, artfully staged by director Jennifer Chambers are as steamy and authentic as they come. But despite quality performances across the board and Chambers’s undeniably eminent skill, the production starts to lag. One reason may be that despite the performer’s charisma, her character remains constant. The play itself bears no secrets for us to uncover. We never learn what made Holly who she is, or — except, perhaps, for the last quixotic split second — glimpse any kind of epiphany. The denouement is odd and unsatisfying.
Nonetheless, both Leshner and McClain, along with Chadwick, are spot-on in their roles. Michael Mullens’ quick-change costuming flatters this already very attractive lead performer. Callaghan’s woman-centered script does have its imperfections, but the production itself makes for first-class theater.
Echo Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 and 7 p.m.; through March 26. (310) 307-3753, echotheatrecompany.com. Running time: one hour, 25 minutes.