by Sam Toussi
Daily Bruin Contributor
Anne Reiner, who has already established herself as a poet and
psychotherapist, begins her playwriting career with "Mirage A
Trois," which is running at the Santa Monica Playhouse through
Reiner, the daughter of comic genius Carl Reiner, has written a
funny and touching play dealing with the troubles of a confused
Jack (Randy Kovitz) is one year removed from his turbulent
marriage to Lila (Shareen Mitchell). Lila is a remarkably strong and
independent woman. But she drives Jack crazy, and in his search for
stability, he runs into the arms of Brandy (Mary Ellen Lyon). Brandy
just happens to be incredibly wealthy, which only adds to the image
of her as the vision of stability.
Out of the blue, Lila calls Jack and asks him to dinner. It's
obvious that they both still have feelings for each other. And as
much as he says he loves his current wife, Brandy, there is
something very stale and rigid about their romance.
Jack faces another complication. His latest play deals with a man
who runs back to his ex-wife after he realizes he still loves her.
His confusion comes to a head when the characters in his play
come onstage, begin to speak with him and eventually take over his
The play is brilliantly directed by Chris DeCarlo. His scrim work
and soft lighting capture the "Moonlighting" feel of the
play. All the actors are obviously in touch with their characters,
and the rhythm of the play is perfect for its subject matter.
The script of "Mirage A Trois" drips with poetry, which
is soothing to listen to and often makes some profound observations
about the nature of love. Yet, at times, the play confuses the
theater for poetry and ends up tripping all over itself.
Two especially kinetic characters stand out. Mitchell's Lila
really puts sparks in the play because she kindles emotions in Jack.
She plays the part of the bitch with surprising charm and wit. With
her coy smile, she sets up her audience for scenes in which she
opens up and reveals a soft heart.
Olivia (Molly Cheek), the counterpart to Lila in Jack's play,
also stands out. Cheek has some of the most difficult dialogue in
the play. Yet, the experienced actress pulls it off with beatnik
flair. Even if her audience gets infinitely confused with her
lamentations about love, they can rely on her expressive face and
soothing voice to convey every emotion she goes through onstage.
As for Kovitz, at times, his performance is charming, neurotic
and funny. It is very reminiscent of the Woody Allen shtick.
But when he falls into a pattern of frequent complaints, the
audience almost knows what to expect, and Jack seems less and less
likable. The audience cannot sympathize with him because his choices
seem so obvious.
That is not necessarily Kovitz's doing.
It seems that because the playwright's strongest characters are
women that Jack should have been a woman dealing with men. Jack is
more of a male stereotype than a real man.
"Mirage A Trois" is an incredibly enjoyable play filled
with a lot of choice and funny dialogue. At its core, though, the
play is about choosing between stability or excitement and why we
make the choices we make.
THEATER: "Mirage A Trois" plays at the Santa Monica
Playhouse through Dec. 31. Tickets are $20 with discounts for
students, teachers, seniors and groups of 16 or more. Call 394-9779
for more information.