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Theater review: 'La Ronde de Lunch' at Skylight

October 22, 2009 |  4:45 pm

Set in a trendy Hollywood restaurant, “La Ronde de Lunch” Peter Lefcourt’s sunny send-up of show business insiders, can be as piquant as the exotic menu offerings. However, although certainly entertaining, the play only occasional reaches the levels of howling hilarity that are so obviously intended.

Lefcourt has, obviously, based his play on Arthur Schnitzler’s 1900 play, “Reigen,” the inspiration for several film and stage adaptations, most notably Max Ophuls’ film classic, “La Ronde.” 

Ronde.300 The action transpires in 10 scenes featuring two characters, one of which factors into the subsequent scene.  In the original, and in most adaptations to date, the encounters have been of a sexual nature. A doctor, Schnitzler was intent upon dramatizing the venereal epidemic that was sweeping Europe at the time.  In Lefcourt’s take, the “disease” is rabid ambition, and it is comically communicable.

The players range all the way from a temperamental glamour queen (Kathryn Harrold, who is widely rumored to be all washed up in the pictures, to a workaday realtor (Gina Hecht who jettisons her ethical standards once a juicy Hollywood deal is dangled in front of her.

Somewhat oddly, Lefcourt links his scenes with a comical Greek chorus of cavorting waiters– a device that, despite Tracy Silver’s delightful interstitial choreography, doesn’t quite gibe with the simple circular format. 

However, in a delightfully over-the-top staging, director Terri Hanauer lets her large and talented cast off the leash, allowing them to romp freely through Lefcourt’s extravagancies. Hecht is particularly effective as a well-meaning woman seduced by a Faustian bargain, and Jay Huguley is quite funny as the hottest star in Hollywood, a spectacularly entitled bonehead at the absolute peak of puffery.

--F. Kathleen Foley

“La Ronde de Lunch,” Skylight, 1816 Vermont Ave., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays.  Ends Nov. 15.  $25.  (310) 358-9936.  Running time:  2 hours, 15 minutes.#

Photo: Joe Briggs and Gina Hecht, photo credit: Ed Krieger.