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Theater review: ‘The Charm of Making’ at the Stella Adler Theatre

March 26, 2010 |  3:00 pm
400.charm-04-hires Self-loathing Southern aristocrats, poetry and plenty of bourbon: Timothy McNeil’s “The Charm of Making” hews closely to the tropes of Tennessee Williams. But despite wonderfully nuanced performances, this elegiac generational drama at the Stella Adler has a surfeit of Blanche du Bois and not enough Stanley Kowalski.

As their unhinged mother (May Quigley Goodman) flirts with death, three adult siblings must chose whether to succumb to the family’s troubled history or move beyond it. Handsome, closeted Elvin (Thor Edgell) is a 50-something virgin; witchy, depressive Morgan (Bonnie McNeil) runs naked through town at night, fleeing a real chance at love; the ascetic Rev. Samuel (Jon Boatwright) can’t decide whether he deserves to be the TV star his congregation wants to make him.

This Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre Collective production has its charms, including the genuine sense of connection that director Milton Justice creates among his cast, and some tart dialogue. But the play is an ensemble in search of an engine — everyone sits around the living room half in love with easeful death – and it’s not until the second act that the story finds some momentum. But the play’s invisible antagonist, a nebulous mix of guilt, bad genes and repression, doesn’t put up much of a fight, ultimately making “Charm’s" drama self-conscious instead of urgent. For adults only.

– Charlotte Stoudt

“The Charm of Making” Stella Adler Los Angeles Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends April 25. $20. (323) 960-7735 or www.Plays411.com/thecharm. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

Photo: Thor Edgell and Bonnie McNeil. Photo credit: Indrek Mandmets.
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