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‘Lifetime’ Showcases a Talented Cast

Shirley Gee’s “Never in My Lifetime” is not a great play, but it does give the fine actors at the Hudson Theatre a good opportunity to do what they do best.

This “Romeo and Juliet"-like tale unspools on the war-torn streets of Belfast, where Irish Colleen Tessie (Keeley Stanley) grows smitten with Tom (G.W. Stevens), one of the British soldiers occupying the neighborhood. Under heavy pressure from friend Maire (Patti Pelton), an Irish resister battling the detested British, Tessie faces the classic struggle between heart and homeland.

Originally written for radio, Gee’s play sometimes seems more an overdetermined downer than bona fide tragedy. Slow pacing and verbosity may put off some viewers, who likewise may wish the playwright had more creatively dramatized monologues by two characters planted on either side of the stage: Tessie’s mother (Edie McClurg, in a nicely nuanced portrayal) and the pregnant wife (Stacey Katzin) of Tom’s soldier buddy Charlie (Evan O’Meara).

Leigh Kilton-Smith’s low-key staging gives the cast plenty of room to strut its stuff, with Stanley particularly effective as a bright and beautiful young woman trapped, by war and circumstance, in a truly untenable position.

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* “Never in My Lifetime,” Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Dec. 10. $20. (213) 660-8587. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.


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