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‘PARTING SHOTS’: THREE ONE-ACTS ON MANHOOD

Productions at acting studios, especially evenings of one-acts, often exist only to show off the actors. “Parting Shots,” at Adam Hill Actors Studio, is an exception. It focuses on a theme--the meaning of manhood in America--and approaches that theme from a variety of perspectives, most of which ring true.

The first play, Bart Baker’s “Parting Shots at Peter P’s,” follows three 27-year-olds, boyhood chums, around a miniature golf course at 3 a.m. on the night of a mutual friend’s wedding. Two of them personify different strains of “the Peter Pan syndrome” (though psychologist Dan Kiley’s catchy phrase for this condition isn’t used in the play, except for the glancing reference in the title). The third wants to grow up, though the route he’s taking toward that goal is hazy--perhaps more so than the author intends.

The conversation is entertaining as well as revealing, skillfully handled by a cast comprising Stephen Breithaupt (who’ll be replaced as of this week), Jeff Tyler and playwright Baker.

Tyler and Baker co-wrote the second play, “Common Bond,” in which an aging teen idol and his pregnant wife venture to Skid Row to confront the shambles that was his father’s life. Timothy Michael Brantley and Beverly Leech were well cast, but they’re too often interrupted by an awkward voiceover reading of the old man’s last letter to his son.

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Baker’s “Triangles” is the most ambitious and least successful play of the evening. A young man in rural Wisconsin must cope with the war-related shellshock of one brother and the severe retardation of another--and it’s too much, for the play as well as for the character. Still, the performances of Mark Harden, Brett Marx and Bryan Rasmussen are engrossing enough that I’d like to see all of them in a better-developed version of the same play.

Adam Hill directed, at 8517 Santa Monica Blvd., where performances continue Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., (213) 854-3988.


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