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Theater review: 'When It Rains Gasoline' and 'Tape' at the Renegade Theater

August 5, 2010 |  4:50 pm

In the high school halls of “When It Rains Gasoline,” Jason D. Martin’s polemic now running at the Renegade Theatre, conflicts aren’t resolved with a perky, choreographed number. Instead, slighted teens -- be they pregnant, gay or virgins -- sulk or sob their way through this pedestrian drama. Performed by a game ensemble under the direction of Joe Filippone and Joelle Arqueros, “Gasoline” may be impassioned, but its point that “stupid people are dangerous” doesn’t exactly qualify as a revelation. 

Things improve during the second half of this evening of one-acts. “Tape,” Stephen Belber’s 1999 cult hit, unfolds in a seedy hotel room on the outskirts of Lansing, Mich. Druggie fireman Vince (Nicolas Read) shares a few cold ones with high school friend Jon (Will Shivers), in town to premiere his indie effort at a local film festival. When Vince brings up a girl they both dated back in the day, accusations and controlled substances flow freely. Then the girl (Whitney Ayers) herself shows up, and the plot takes a sly (if not unexpected) turn or two. Director Arqueros keeps the tension high as Read and Shivers play well off each other. As reunions go, this one’s a live wire. 

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“When It Rains Gasoline” and “Tape,” Renegade Theater, 1514 N. Gardner St., Los Angeles. 7 p.m. (“Gasoline”) and 8:30 p.m. (“Tape”) Fridays and Saturdays. Ends Aug. 21. $20. Contact: (323) 769-5566. Running time: 3 hours.

Photo: Nicolas Read, left, and Will Shivers in "Tape." Credit: Joelle Arqueros.