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Arts and Entertainment

'God's Ear' Deaf to Family Tragedy in New Play at the Zephyr

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Jeremy Shranko, Amanda Saunders, Alana Dietze, and Tara Karsian in the new play "God's Ear" (Photo: Megan J. Carroll)
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Jenny Schwartz's recent play "God's Ear" arrives in L.A. with impeccable New York credentials and impressive notices. So forgive us if we couldn't help feeling like we were watching an extended improv class exercise, the kind where an actor is told her son just died and her husband is off chasing other women and she responds with a long free-associative monologue made up of lines like "And Hell will be freezing. And pigs will be flying. And Rome will be built. And water will be wine....And we'll cross that bridge. And bridge that gap. And bear that cross. And cross that 't.' And part that sea. And act that part...."

The death of the 10-year-old son of Mel (Amanda Saunders) and Ted (Paul Caramagno) at the beginning of "God's Ear" is the launching point for an extended flight of manic fantasy, featuring a cross-dressing flight attendant and a toy GI Joe come to life (Jeremy Shranko in the dual roles) as well as a jaded been-there-done-that Tooth Fairy (Tara Karsian) who doesn't take guff from anyone.

To be sure, the ultra-absurdist tone of Schwartz's play does allow its intermittent moments of genuine humanity to shine through all the brighter, particularly in Andrea Grano's especially strong performance as Lenora, a woman who hooks up with Ted in a motel room one-night stand. The moment when, as they kiss each other goodbye at the end of their liaison, she asks Ted, "Tell me something, stranger to stranger: Am I a train wreck? Tell me something, stranger to stranger: Am I damaged goods?" is subtly devastating and continues to linger even once we've been transported back into the land of endless wordplay where "God's Ear" spends most of its time.

"God's Ear" plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm through February 19. Tickets are $25 at the door, $28 through the Echo Theatre Company web site, $16.50 on goldstar and LA StageTix.