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'Reborning': Creepy, yes, but undeniably powerful

Extraordinary cast propels Zayd Dohrn's superb comedy-drama 'Reborning' at Fountain Theatre

“Reborning” is the phenomenon in which customers purchase extravagantly expensive infant dolls – sometimes facsimiles of lost loved ones – that are amazingly lifelike in every particular.

Fascinated by this “beautiful, grotesque and odd” fetish/fad, playwright Zayd Dohrn was inspired to write “Reborning,” his superb comedy-drama, now in its Los Angeles premiere at the Fountain Theatre.

The action centers around Kelly (Joanna Strapp), a prickly young woman who lives with her goofily “normal” boyfriend, Daizy (Ryan Doucette). The much in-demand creator of “reborn” babies, Kelly encounters a particularly exacting customer in Emily (Kristin Carey), a successful older woman who has ordered an exact replica of her dead baby girl. But when Kelly begins to suspect that Emily is the woman who gruesomely abandoned her at birth, she arrives at the brink of madness.

It's an admittedly creepy concept, but there's nothing cheap about Dohrn's play, which builds to a shattering denouement.

Director Simon Levy has assembled an extraordinary cast in his exquisitely well-realized production, which also features impressive design elements, particularly Jeff McLaughlin's scruffy apartment set.

All the actors are rock-solid, but Strapp's is a slow-motion train crash of a performance – a real heart-stopper that leaves us emotionally wrecked in its aftermath.

“Reborning,” Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 15. $15-$34.96. (323) 663-1525. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

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