MISSION TO MATE
by Les Spindle
Writer-director Colin Mitchell’s debuting play offers a three-part rumination on heterosexual mating rituals in L.A. The edgy encounters among separate couples are about as far from sitcom meet-cute as one can get. All segments feature a primarily mild-mannered male. The most striking female character is a ball-busting temptress, appearing in the second offering. One thus detects almost a reverse-Mamet-machismo ethos in effect here. Add to that a tinge of Ionesco absurdity and a dash of Jules Ffeifer’s cynical views on sexual politics, plus some moody choreographic interludes with a Strindbergian dance-of-death vibe.
In what seems more a curtain-raiser than an integral introductory piece, “The Twinkle in Your Eye” features a man (Michael Sanchez) and a woman (Alla Poberesky) whose paths cross in a coffee shop, with each speaking of the phenomenon of lost virginity.
“The Naked Cello,” the more substantial segment that follows, benefits from an uproarious and forceful portrayal of an aggressive Russian woman (Poberesky) who interrupts a writer under deadline (Sanchez) by telephone, offering him an unusual proposition. A cellist with a fixation on Kathleen Turner in “Romancing the Stone,” this cleverly conceived character is played to audacious perfection by the resourceful Poberesky.
Fanciful sci-fi—think Rod Serling updated to the sexually hip 21st century—surfaces in “Mission to Mate.” In a barroom meeting between a man (Sanchez) who has travelled through time from the year 2510 to the present day and a contemporary woman (Poberesky), an effort is allegedly underway to preserve the survival of the human species. Duty apparently calls for this earnest savior and the woman he is hitting on.
The one-hour piece is frequently amusing, and Mitchell displays a flair for witty dialog, though thematic connections seem tenuous. The sci-fi piece might function better by itself, with its plot and themes expanded. Nonetheless, this is an entertaining and imaginatively staged offering.
Mission to Mate is part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and runs June 16, 17, 23, and 24 at the Theatre Asylum. For tickets, see hollywoodfringe.org/projects/860
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