LETTERS TO EDITOR
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by Laura Hitchcock
Multimedia is the co-star of Perfect, upstaging even the unborn child who supposedly is its deus ex machina. The actors perform before a collage from three media projectors and a live video feed. Sometimes their faces fill the theatre's back wall as they talk to the video operator. Sometimes projections of their homes, cities and even their fetus fill the space in triplicate. The scenes are very short, giving the impression the piece started life as a screenplay and is dying to be one again, to quote former LA Times critic Dan Sullivan.
Since this world premiere is intended to be about the latest scientific method for determining the sex of a child, the use of these techniques lends the play a certain cohesiveness. The medium is its message. Unfortunately so much time has been devoted to technique that development has fallen by the wayside. Perfect has the feel of scenes glimpsed over coffee cups or Cosmopolitans at a series of sad cafes. People come and go and never let us get beyond the customary trauma. If the cast weren't so engaging, it would be beyond irritating.
Andrew (Mark Kassen) and Anna (Judy Greer) explore the latest gender choice techniques with Dr. Chalk and eventually Anna gets pregnant. That's the last we hear of their unborn child, Lili. The play wanders off to explore the couple's infidelities (though we never know why), their friends (an extraordinarily callow lot) and their parents (left-over Leave It To Beaver). It's hard to care about any of these people and when Anna miscarries, there's a suspicion Lili had the same opinion.
That said, there's a lot of talent on the tiny stage of the Tiffany. Judy Greer and Mark Kassen are believably at the mercy of their impulses. Other cast members play multiple roles. Perfect makes a fortuitous showcase for stunning and versatile Lola Glaudini in whose case, there will hopefully be a lot more shows.
Director Charles Otte keeps things moving right along, although it's hard to tell how much control he had over the projections which predictably upstage the actors most of the time. Kassen, who also wrote the play in which he performs, has an ear for contemporary speech, energy and ambition. If Perfect isn't, let's not hold it against him. He's got scope for a future.
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