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Arts and Entertainment

Theater Review: This 'Invisible Play' Isn't Much Worth Seeing

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The best thing about The Invisible Play, now in its West Coast premiere production at Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood, is its initial premise. Colin (Trevor H. Olsen), a veteran cubicle dweller in the office of a struggling book publishing company, suddenly becomes entirely imperceptible to his co-workers. They forget he ever existed, even though he's still sitting right there among them at his desk.

From this starting point we thought that Alex Dremann's play might be about to offer a witty or insightful take on something like the social anomie of the contemporary workplace or the dehumanizing side effects of today's automated economy. But once Colin is visited by two other invisible company employees (Kirsten Vangsness and Christopher Neiman), who explain to him that the only way to escape their condition is to find (oh, guess what) true love, the rest of the evening is almost all about devising a strategy for unseen and unheard Colin to attract the attention of Fran (Jennifer Flack), the colleague at the next desk he's had a crush on for years.

A lot of the laugh lines in this ersatz romantic comedy center around the mispronunciation of "Colin" as "colon," which eventually turns into a second act pun when the sender's name in his emails to Fran is automatically reduced to that wispy punctuation mark (this would have a punchier effect when it happens if the joke weren't already made a few times beforehand). The publishing company where the play takes place is called Existential Books, implying some philosophical substance which never gets unpacked. And the banter between the underdeveloped secondary characters who populate the office is only occasionally clever and virtually never out-and-out funny.

Director Amanda Weier's decision to have a male actor in drag (Joel Scher) take on the doubled female roles of Kitty, a frustrating author unable to finish her "existential romance novel," and hidden office worker Cass—a cross-gender element not featured in previous productions of The Invisible Play—suggests she might have recognized that the given material needed some drastic livening up. But solid performances by Scher, Olsen and Vangsness aren't enough to compensate for this show's undeniable vision problem.

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'The Invisible Play' runs Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. this week and next, with a 7 p.m. show on Sunday the 15th (Wednesday is an understudy performance). Tickets are $28 ($23 for students and seniors) through the Theatre of Note website, $25 ($20) at the door or $16.50 through lastagetix.

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