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Theater review: 'Mine' at the Elephant Lab Theatre

February 15, 2012 |  2:00 pm

“Mine” at the Elephant Lab Theatre
A beautiful young writer is torn between two lovers: the steady, dull provider and the flighty soul mate. Anais Nin, right? Sure, but the predicament is endemic among arty young women in literature (who, oddly, seldom consider kissing both suitors goodbye and applying to law school). Its latest victim is Annie, heroine of Bekah Brunstetter’s “Mine,” which the Little Beast Theatre Company is giving a low-key L.A. premiere at the Elephant Lab Theatre.

Annie (Kieren Van Den Blink) is a poet/barista who enjoys smoke breaks with guitar-strumming coworker Sam (Sam Daly) and tolerates restaurant dinners with her kind boyfriend, Doug (Adam Harrington). It’s obvious that Sam is a promising singer-songwriter because he wears black-framed glasses. (Except, honestly, Daly’s performances of songs by Joe Pug sorely tested my faith in those glasses; he was pretty “pitchy.”)

And it’s equally clear that Doug, a "businessman" (i.e., he wears business suits), doesn’t really understand Annie no matter how generously he compliments her bad poems. Harrington makes Doug an appealing guy with an easy smile and the patience of Job, and Daly’s Sam is a narcissist. But there’s no doubt where Annie’s heart lies, and her decision to chase Sam while stringing Doug along is presented as one of those tough things a girl poet has to do.

Brunstetter has a gift for pointing out the underlying, unspoken conversations that make seemingly casual exchanges so awkward. Often, both men are on the stage, or in the bed, when Annie is “really” with only one. But director Dep Kirkland possibly overdoes the pensive silences and uneasy glances; the production has a muted, hesitant feel.

The beautiful Van Den Blink (founder of Little Beast), who has the large eyes and tense demeanor of a woodland creature, plays many scenes half turned away from the audience, almost as though she recognizes Annie’s sneakiness and is ashamed to show her face. Relax! You’re young! Two guys are in love with you! Life could be a lot worse.

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 -- Margaret Gray

“Mine.” The Elephant Lab Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 11. Contact: (323) 960-7788 or www.plays411.net/mine. Running time: 1 hour, 30 min.

Photo: Doug (Adam Harrington, background) loves Annie (Kieren Van Den Blink), who only has eyes for Sam (Sam Daly) in "Mine." Credit: Chris A. Peterson.


 
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