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Stage Reviews : ‘More Light’ Is Lost in the Dark at the Lex

“So this is heaven!” A line that strikes dread into a theater reviewer’s heart. It comes in the second act of British playwright Snoo Wilson’s “More Light,” presented by A Directors’ Theatre at the Lex Theatre.

Actually, the scene of the play isn’t heaven, but the head of Pope Clement VIII, circa 1600. Clement keeps having this nightmare that a Dominican friar named Giordano Bruno wasn’t burned at the stake for heresy after all, but escaped to. . . .

Heaven? Well, you know how confusing nightmares can be. This one also features Queen Elizabeth and William Shakespeare, who has turned himself into a woman in order to avoid Elizabeth’s advances. However, she keeps advancing.

We also meet an alchemist named Dr. Dee, a sharper named Kelly and a barmaid. Does any of this make any sense?

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Director Anne Drecktrah’s production slightly suggests the kind of small-theater extravaganza that the Company Theatre used to do, except that nothing blends. The light changes are jerky, the set is static, the costumes hamper the actors’ movements without being visually impressive and only three of the company have voices--Julian Barnes as Bruno, William Utay as Pope Clement and Howard Malpas as Dr. Dee.

Drecktrah’s program-note about commedia dell’ arte is bewildering. Her production has one actor with physical skills--Albie Selznick, of the juggling group the Mums, in the role of Kelly. Everybody else moves like a civilian.

Shows like this may be a “stretch” for the artists involved, but are a pain for the average viewer--or even the viewer who knows something about the plays of Snoo Wilson. I saw “More Light” twice, for my sins, and wasn’t surprised that half of the second audience left at intermission. If you don’t grab them these days, they go home.

Plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and at 7:30 p.m. Sundays, with Sunday matinees at 2:30. Tickets $10-$15. 6760 Lexington Ave. (213) 466-1767.

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