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Play Review: The Empty Bed

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LAist is a big fan of local theater. Many smaller productions are so often overlooked by the big titles that come to town, like say, Wicked, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or Master Class, so we’ll support LA’s theater community with the best of them. But like those big productions, sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised, but other times – like in the case of The Empty Bed – you’re not quite satisfied.

Billed in the press materials as a “dream-like and darkly humorous drama about two lost souls trying to connect,” Sharon Yablon’s new play The Empty Bed seems more like two actors overly emoting in a series of slow-paced scenes. The play revolves around a sick, elderly woman the audience never sees; the woman’s emotionally stunted son (played by Jack Kehler); and the woman hired to care for her (Shawna Casey). Both characters are damaged in some way – they suffer from intimacy issues and seem to be stuck in that no man’s land that sits somewhere between youth and death.

Yablon’s writing is better than her direction. Because the actors seem a little stiff onstage (Kehler tries a little to hard to drive home a creepy middle-aged bachelor persona and Casey comes off a little too snobby), the monologues don’t wield the full power of Yablon’s words. It’s a shame that the audience doesn’t become fully invested in these characters' plights – because the themes of love, loneliness, aging and a past that haunts are ones which we all can relate to.

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The Empty Bed
Stephanie Feury Studio Theater
5636 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles
Runs through March 24 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm.

Tickets: $15

Call 213.625.1766 or e-mail reservations@paduaplaywrights.net.