Upon first entering the newly refurbished Zeitgeist Theatre (formerly the Burbage), one is struck by the prodigious effort it must have taken to convert the previously dilapidated surroundings into such a handsome, stylishly decorated facility.
The hopefulness and energy of the Zeitgeist Company is palpable throughout John Benjamin Martin's "Tower of Masks," the group's premiere production in its new space. However, Martin's offbeat sexual comedy, a sort of lame "La Ronde," which traces the lives of various characters as they engage in sundry sexual escapades, proves an inauspicious debut.
Martin, who also directed the play, plays Jamie, a stutterer hopelessly besotted with his plastic store mannequin "wife." Other characters include a promiscuous receptionist (Linda Martin), who has a crush on Jamie; her prim, repressed co-worker (Lucy Lee Flippen), who is hoping to recharge her boring life by becoming a dominatrix; her avid bondage and discipline mentor (Jamie Gorenberg); and a leering fetishist (Boyd Holister) who really "gets into" women's lingerie.
Martin manages some genuinely sprightly dialogue at intervals, but relies primarily on sophomoric kinkiness for laughs. The result is more like a Monty Python routine with the wit taken out and only the "naughty bits" left in.
* "Tower of Masks," Zeitgeist Theatre, 2330 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. (Matinees March 12 and 26, 2 p.m.) Ends April 1. $15. (310) 444-1867. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.