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Theatre Review: 'The Tragedy of the Commons' at the Ruskin Group Theatre Co.

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Brian Kerwin and Leslie Hicks/Photo via Facebook
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When tragedy strikes a family, each person has their own way of coping. Some experience their grief and move on, others latch on passionately to causes into which they can channel their rage. That discrepancy, and the havoc it can wreak on relationships, is at the heart of Stephen Metcalfe's new drama, "The Tragedy of the Commons," currently in production at the Ruskin Group Theatre Co. in Santa Monica. The show's name is a nod to a sociological concept which suggests that shared resources will inevitably be run into the ground through overuse, but the play tackles much more than that.

Brian Kerwin and Leslie Hicks play Dakin and Macy Adams, a couple that's weathered some of the best -- and some of the worst -- that life has to offer. As Dakin spends his days consumed with writing political rants on a blog, Macy passes the time by trying to keep their home alive and their relationship flourishing.

But when their longtime neighbor decides to move, Dakin and Macy's life as they know it begins to unravel, and the few threads that hold their marriage together threaten to snap.

The actors seem at ease onstage, and Kerwin delivers a standout performance as entrenched and somewhat shell-shocked Dakin, conveying a cool nonchalance that belies the storm brewing within. Austin Highsmith adds a level of depth to Dakin and Macy's relationship as the couple's grown daughter Ellen, a well-meaning and bright young lawyer who is still very much entangled in her family's somewhat dysfunctional dynamic.

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The otherwise well-done play lacks a certain cohesion, so the final climactic scenes leave something to be desired in terms of passion and heightened emotion. But that aside, Metcalfe has written a thoughtful bit of prose about the tragedies that shape our common lives, and the Ruskin has done it justice.