Theater review: ‘Dysnomia’ at the Lounge Theatre

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Marriage. Parenting. Life after 40. All pose questions that leave us groping for answers.

They’re particularly tough for the central character in ‘Dysnomia,’ a new play by Marja-Lewis Ryan. This suburban mom and career woman, portrayed with lump-in-the-throat believability by Heidi Sulzman, might at first seem to be a garden-variety narcissist, whining about her lack of fulfillment. But as she struggles to find words for what’s wrong (hence the play’s title), we see that an essential part of her hasn’t been expressed.

Soon she’s redefining -- and risking -- her relationships with her husband (Trevor H. Olsen), children (Ryan Stathos as a bored kid who’s acting out, Isabella Palmieri as his precocious sibling) and friends (Jessie Warner and Monroe Makowsky). Comradeship comes in the form of a tag-along Thanksgiving guest (playwright Ryan).

Ryan wrote ‘The Four-Faced Liar,’ which won an audience award at 2010’s Outfest, and she demonstrates great acuity here, though it’s not immediately evident. The first act is so schematic that the story map is all but visible to the naked eye. Also off-putting is the whiff of showcase theater; the show is produced by three of the spotlighted actors. But the affirming moments in this later-in-life coming-of-age story, directed by Anthony Frisina, play like an ‘It Gets Better’ video for adults.


-- Daryl H. Miller

‘Dysnomia,’ the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Aug. 21. $20. (323) 960-7862 or Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.