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Arts and Entertainment

Getting 'Out of My Head' at the Pico Playhouse

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Sexual Perversity in Group Therapy: Anna Bowen, Emily Clark, Saro Badalian, Robyn S. Clark (Photo: Matthew Murphy)
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Five young, emotionally wrecked New Yorkers baring their hearts in a pair of free group therapy sessions are the endearingly odd subjects of Ryan Scott Oliver's oddly endearing new chamber musical, "Out of My Head," now running at the Pico Playhouse in West L.A.Each of these unnamed square pegs suffers their own personal torment: Anna Bowen plays a "starving artist" plagued by self-doubt, Saro Badalian is a conflicted gay Catholic, Robyn S. Clark is an extreme hypochondriac and general omniphobe, everyone Emily Clark dates turns out to be gay, and Gary Brintz is a typical single New York male. And, of course, they all have the songs to show for it.

But this is not just another litany of "Chorus Line"-style autobiographical sob story showstoppers. Oliver's music is too sophisticated for that. Rather, as the show progresses, the characters' interplay affords them all (a little implausibly to be sure, but so what) enough self-discovery to set aside their insecurities and face the world afresh.

The whole cast is pretty good, and Oliver's fourteen songs are impressively clever, though the book by Kristen Guenther could stand a second draft. Director Jacob Harvey's staging is fun and energetic.

"Out of My Head," produced by the Mechanicals Theatre Group, plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7, through August 21. Full-price tickets $21, available for $11 at stagealliance.com.