Seldom have I been part of a more enthusiastic and vocal audience than the one at the Macha Theater for “Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes.” Either the house was papered with doting relatives (and the wine was spiked with horse tranquilizer?) or Brad T. Gottfred’s play about young couples stumbling through the minefield of codependency taps a universal nerve.
At rise, Mandy (the wonderfully off-kilter J.J. Nolan), a modern Ophelia with tear-smeared mascara, wakes Benny (John Weselcouch) to accuse him of cheating on her, even though — as he points out — they broke up. The lights then come up in turn on three more mutually baffled couples.
They’re all on their way to a brunch that Nicole (Mandy Henderson) has arranged to introduce her new love interest, Dylan (Thomas Sellwood), whom she has never met. On the strength of their online courtship, he’s flying in from Chicago.
Her precipitous celebration becomes a sumptuous buffet of regrettable behaviors. Meanwhile, George (Baxter Defy) and Hillary (Jessa Zarubica) are too mired in dysfunction even to get out of their car (a sawhorse, two chairs, and a free-floating steering wheel), which provides the setting for a darkly hilarious play-within-a-play.
You might not choose anybody onstage as a role model — but chances are you’ve behaved like one or more of them.
The wit in Gottfred’s writing stems from its insight into the less impressive aspects of human nature; as a director, he encourages his actors to throw themselves (sometimes to the point of scene-chewing and mugging) into their feckless characters’ passions. But his mordant vision of our bumbling quest for love is somehow cathartic.
Imagine Sartre coming of age in the era of sitcoms and Prozac: Yes, Hell is other people—and it’s a really funny place.
“Women Are Crazy Because Men Are …” The Macha Theater, 1107 North Kings Road, West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays. Ends $25.69-$39.69. Ends Sept. 29. Contact: www.bleepingcrazy.com. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.