THEATER REVIEW : 'Whiteface' an Engaging Solo Act

Kyle Heffner is an exceptionally likable, seasoned and skilled actor. In fact, he's so comfy performing "Whiteface" at the Company of CharActors that you'd swear the piece was an improv, even though it's not. But then, maybe he's so at ease in this role because he's playing Kyle Heffner.

Yes, theater buffs, it's yet another autobiographical solo. Just what L.A. needs. But Heffner's stories about his life and times as a light-skinned African-American are surprisingly engaging, thanks to the performer's charisma.

The catch is that, as a writer, Heffner's, well, a pretty good actor. Most of his anecdotes make the same point--over and over. He never digs beneath the obvious fact that many kinds of racism and urban violence do exist.

There may be more to these tales than Heffner has yet been able to bring to the page. If so, it's worth a rewrite. But Kyle, the gushy gooey stuff where you show us the kiddie picture of your daughter--or tell us she's the reason you wrote the show (oh, how original!)--has got to go.

* "Whiteface," Company of CharActors, 12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (213) 466-1767. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Oct. 17. $12. Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes.

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