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Theater review: ‘Seatbelts Required’ at Actors Workout Studio

January 12, 2012 |  8:00 pm

Seatbelts Required
Three psychologically scarred sisters reunite for their mother’s funeral with predictably melodramatic results in Kimberly Demmary’s “Seatbelts Required” at the Actors Workout Studio. As the venue name suggests, this homegrown drama provides a showcase vehicle for honing skills, although in both performance and scripting it leaves considerable room for further working out.

After the funeral, the sisters (half-sisters, actually, as they each have different fathers — one of several narrative details with slender dramatic payoff) gather in the house where they grew up, where they spend the afternoon revealing dark secrets and throwing their dead mother’s scrunchies at one another, as estranged siblings are wont to do.

Aside from the house, their principal inheritance from their self-absorbed, neurotic mom is their self-absorbed neurosis, which come in three flavors: uptight, angst-ridden suburban housewife Janet (Elizabeth Kimball), flaky twentysomething aspiring beautician Maggie (Chelsea Pitillo) and insecure “middle sister” Agnes (Cynthia Manous), a theater artist who ended up a reluctant crutch and caretaker during their mother's downward spiral.

John Barker’s staging features a nicely detailed set (by Brian Graves) but hasn’t solved the strained credibility in what unfolds on it. After a slow, fairly innocuous first act, the nasty revelations start piling up as multiple beers and tequila shots take their toll, culminating in a somewhat ludicrous implication that past disregard for human and animal life can somehow give rise to bonding and reconciliation.

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More theater reviews the Los Angeles Times

-- Philip Brandes

“Seatbelts Required,” Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 12. $15. (818) 506-3903 or www.actorsworkout.com. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Photo: Elizabeth Kimball, Chelsea Pitillo, and Cynthia Manous. Credit: Brian Graves.

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