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‘Sacrificial Dance’ Takes On System

“Sacrificial Dance” at the Court Theatre is a temper tantrum thinly disguised as a drama, twisting that paradigm of rational inquiry--the courtroom drama--into a highly stylized and increasingly ludicrous tirade against “The System.”

Playwright Donna McGee’s exploration of society’s inadequate response to child sexual abuse centers on a teen-age girl (Lori Horowitz) on trial for shooting her tyrannical father (Bill McKinney).

The surreal trial mixes elements of Kafka, Perry Mason and Greek tragedy with masked jurors doubling as witnesses to re-create the events that led to the murder.

Despite McGee’s serious intentions, the play founders on its heavy-handed symbolism. The father is not just bad, he’s evil incarnate, the girl a purebred martyr. And the eventual ruling by the masked judge (Matthew Knox) is a senseless punishment that violates the play’s own legal context.

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McKinney and Horowitz bring commendable intensity to their stereotyped roles, as does Nathan LeGrand as the redneck in a tangential racism subplot.

But dramatic coherence doesn’t stand a chance here. The ultimate dreamlike merging of the evil father and the judge into a single figure of undifferentiated wrath is the final proof we’re hopelessly mired in archetypal muck.

* “Sacrificial Dance,” Court Theatre, 722 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends May 22. $20. (213) 852-1445. Running time: 1 hours, 50 minutes.


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