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A CurtainUp Review
Pacific Daylight

by David Avery

When you ask people how they're doing, you really mean it.
---Steve to his girlfriend Kerri, explaining why she is "earnest."
Lauren Letherer and Darrett Sanders in Pacific Daylight
Lauren Letherer & Darrett Sanders in "Pacific Daylight. "
Photo: Donald Agnelli
We all know people who are in a perpetual kerfluffle. Life is just a bit too overwhelming for them to keep things together. They carom back and forth between a rock and a hard place, relying on friends and family to hold them up. The usual result is that either they get wise, or their support system collapses.

Kerri (Alina Phelan), the protagonist of Cody Henderson's new play Pacific Daylight is just such a person. For a long time she has relied on her friend Cynthia (Lauren Letherer) to help her deal with the "impossibilities" of her life. She doesn't own a car, and has to constantly be picked up. She tends to exaggerate her circumstances, and though it seems merely miscommunication, we get a sense that it is purposely done to get attention.

Kerri's boyfriend Steve (Jon Beauregard) seems to be a bit of a moocher without much ambition, and Kerri herself doesn't appear all that thrilled with her dead end job instructing learning disabled children. Meanwhile, Cynthia has just met Ernie (Darrett Sanders), and they are mutually attracted to each other.

The"white comedy" moniker in this play's collateral is an apt description. Its tone is wry, and its humor is subtle. It is an observational piece of writing, about how people's lives gradually move in different directions. Barbara Lempel's set, consisting of a paper mache-like representation of Los Angeles, and a simple pull-curtain to change the setting of the action, heighten the feeling by giving the play a fairy tale quality.

In many ways, Kerri is a child caught in an adult world. Steve doesn't understand Kerri, and at one point says to her "A car is the American Dream; I don't understand why you don't want one," -- to which she replies "I have a different American Dream." Unfortunately, her dream seems to consist of half-hearted attempts to change herself and The World. As occurs so many times in life, she is disaffected and unhappy, but doesn't have a clue on how to change her situation. Steve, happy with his lot, is no help. As Kerri watches her friend Cynthia begin to change, she is threatened and scared knowing thing are never going to be the same.

The extremely small space doesn't give the actors a lot of room to maneuver, but that works out just fine as they keep their performances moderated to fit the space without losing any intensity. Kerri's overwrought sensibilities play off nicely against Cyn thia's cynicism. Her frustration at Kerri's constant interruptions to her burgeoning romance with Ernie builds slowly, until the obvious conclusion occurs. Ernie's slow drawl and grounded certainty are a good counter point to Steve's bumpkinish demeanor. The play uses duality well, with two male characters, two female characters, and two relationships. The audience can't help but weigh the halves of these dualities on the scale of opinion.

All in all, Pacific Daylight is a slyly funny slice-of-life play that doesn't overstay its welcome. If it were expanded into more than a one-act, it would need to add a colossal misfortune to one of it's characters in order fill up space, and that would detract from it's simple charm.

Playwright: Cody Henderson
Director: Albert Dayan
Cast: Seth Bates (Chris), Jon Beauregard (Steve), Lauren Letherer (Cynthia), Alina Phelan (Kerri), Darret Sanders (Ernie)
Set/Costume Design: Barbara Lempel
Lighting Design: Lisa D. Katz
Sound Design: Cheyenne Henderson
Running Time: approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes with no intermission
Dates: From 7/02/05 to 8/06/05
Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tickets: All tix $18.00
Fridays/Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 7pm
Reviewed by David Avery on 7/02/05.

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