Critic’s Pick: ‘Against the Wall’ at Theatre West
There’s a breath of fresh air blowing across the proscenium of venerable Theatre West, an occasionally creaky production entity that has been in existence 50 years and counting, and has been known to show its age.
That breeze is emanating from the world premiere of Charlie Mount’s “Against the Wall,” a rollicking comedy that was developed in the theater’s Writers in Rep program. (Another world premiere from that program, “Flag Day,” will run in rep with “Wall.”)
FOR THE RECORD: A review in the May 30 Calendar section of “Against the Wall” at Theatre West gave the closing date as June 22; it is June 29. The play is also dark from May 29 to June 1 and from June 12 to June 22.
The slight but serviceable plot may strike certain theater purists as markedly fluffy. That’s deceptive. Pulling off a modern-day romantic comedy is no mean feat, and Mount, who also directs, crafts a charmer that is as crisply staged as it is well directed.
A veteran stand-up comic and magician, Mount sets the action in a milieu he knows well: a Greenwich village comedy club, the Wall, where struggling stand-up comic Jeff (Nick McDow) performs his mixed bag of sardonic one-liners and misogynistic put-downs.
Jeff’s roommate and longtime best friend, Alex (Lukas Bailey), is an up-and-comer on the trajectory to success and fame. Alex fixes his lonely pal up with activist/actress Susan (Katie Adler) on a blind date. Of course, Jeff and Susan are diametrically opposed personalities who meet cute and clash spectacularly, with plenty of snarky interplay along the path to true love.
Despite a few fumbles, Mount steamrollers the action to a satisfying conclusion, thanks in large part to his youthful and comedically gifted performers, who deliver the laughs with plenty of heart. Jeff G. Rack’s set and Yancey Dunham’s lighting nicely evoke both a modest New York apartment and a garishly lighted comedy club stage. Mount contributes the sound — yet another superlative element in his lovingly crafted creation.
“Against the Wall,” Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 22. $30. (323) 851-7977. www.theatrewest.org. Running time: 2 hours.
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