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Review: 'Love Water' at Open Fist Theatre

June 11, 2009 |  5:45 pm

Love Water - 1 So much for maternal devotion: teenage Antonio (Joseph Vega) is flatly informed by his mother (Misi Lopez Lecube) that she doesn’t love him and never has. Wandering L.A., he’s taken in by Lulu (Alina Phelan), a mentally unhinged woman who lives in a water pipe above a polluted riverbed. A promising set-up for “Love Water,” now at Open Fist in Hollywood. But Jacqueline Wright’s study of nurture and its vicissitudes never quite gets going.

This co-production with Ensemble Studio Theatre-L.A. certainly has ambition. Sibyl Wickersheimer’s expansive set, with its concrete riverbed and giant upstage pipe, evokes the sun-bleached industrial malaise of Los Angeles, and director Dan Bonnell choreographs his 11-member cast with elegance. (Chris Wojcieszyn’s lighting is also effective.)

But Wright serves up whimsical glimpses — a poet in a full-body cast (Joshua Wolf Coleman, witty) on the edge of a high-rise, and a man with breasts (Colin Campbell) hatching a creature (Pilar Alvarez) from a giant egg — rather than developed characters. “I have trouble loving the people I love,” explains Lulu, but the play doesn’t explore her dilemma in a sustained way. We’re left with fragments of poetry, and a few striking images. For all its obsession with life outside the womb, “Water” is still in its embryonic stage.

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Love Water,” Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 11. $20. Contact: 323-882-6912 or Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Caption: Alina Phelan and Joseph Vega in "Love Water." Credit: Dan Bonnell