Theater Reviews : Revolving's 'Mind' Tends to Wander

Revolving Door Productions is being outrageous again at its Tribune Theatre home base. This time it's called "Mind's I," an evening of short monologues and a couple of pieces that qualify as one-acts, all written and directed by Terry McNichol.

Some of it works, but most of it is pointless, aimless and spiritless. The evening opens with a Host (Nicholas Boicourt Jr.) dressed in black and bound with rope to a chair. He appears to be having a problem with his mind and invites the audience inside. Obviously, it is author-director McNichol's mind we are viewing, and it isn't a refreshing sight.

McNichol has a lot of media images in mind, from a bellowing, tooth-grinding Charles Manson (Spider Madison) in "True Believer," to the Neil Armstrong-Farrah Fawcett-Jim Morrison hallucinations that visit a druggie (Bradley A. Whitfield) dying from hepatitis in "The Peak." There is also the mechanized Disneyland Lincoln (Madison again), which one expects to go hilariously haywire, but which merely comes to somber life to remind us that we're all brothers and we'd better not forget it.

Some of the short pieces almost work but fizzle out before hitting a big finish, such as "Dead Man Speaks," about a young man (a very effective Joel Beers) who has a near-death experience and suddenly realizes that life is really a pretty rotten deal.

Out of the evening, there is one glimmer of hope--if not for McNichol's mental ease, at least for the germ of what might be a touching, heartbreaking play someday.

"Midnight Caller" is an inside visit with Brandy, who sells phone sex for $2 a minute. Brandy is really Vera (Martina Paris), who was paralyzed by polio as a child and dishes up her fantasies unseen, from her wheelchair. Her callers are most often looking for help rather than relief, and a surprise midnight visit from a very disturbed phone client convinces Vera to change her services.

Paris unerringly draws the viewer into Vera's world, and "Caller" has the seed of real theater in it. Vera is someone we'd like to meet again under more lucid circumstances.

* "Mind's I," Tribune Theatre, 116 1/2 Wilshire (faces Amerige), Fullerton. Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m. Ends March 12. $5. (714) 525-3403. Running time: 2 hours. Nicholas Boicourt Jr., Spider Madison, Martina Paris, Ilyana Jamila Marks, Chris Egger, Bradley A. Whitfield, Shari Steinberg, Joel Beers, Steven Lamprinos.

A Revolving Door Productions staging of Terry McNichol's evening of monologues and short plays, produced by Steve Spehar, and directed by the author. Scenic design: Michael Mollo, Erica Dewey. Lighting design: Steve Spehar. Gadgets and cobwebs: Jerry Chavez. Stage manager: Vicki Banks.

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