Theater Reviews: Doctor Anonymous, L.A. Deli

(Photos by Ed Kreiger)

Doctor Anonymous
Zephyr Theatre  |  7456 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.
Through May 4  |
* * * *
The new play Doctor Anonymous by Guy Fredrick Glass has moments of brilliance, but it can’t quite reach the heights of its historical brethren. Set in 1972, the story uses the dawn of gay pride in Philadelphia to tell the story of a psychologist coming to terms with his sexuality in a time when same-sex love was still classified as a mental condition. And while he and his new lover try to make a go at it, before you know it, he decides to try and make the gay go away.

There are lofty goals in Doctor Anonymous, and that should be admired. But while it strives for The Normal Heart greatness, there are too many ideas here to make the play feel cohesive. When big moments happen, they seem half-hearted or out of place. One character’s untimely death is presented in such a way that the character’s reactions to it are so ho-hum the death barely registers. And when the Doctor Anonymous ‘will he or will he not?’ moment arrives, it is robbed of any dramatic heft because the choice was never clearly offered as the dramatic tipping point.

It’s hard to condemn a play that has respectable intentions, and while the game cast (Matt Crabtree, Barry Pearl and Kevin Held are standouts) does what it can with the material, the script betrays the actors’ ability to really make it tug at your soul. Hanging a lantern on what we are supposed to be feeling is not as effective as actually making us feel it. —Kevin P. Taft


L.A. Deli
Marilyn Monroe Theatre  |  7936 Santa Monica Blvd., WeHo
Through April 27  |
* * * *
Satire on wry is served up with style in Sam Bobrick’s tasty spoof of the scramble for success and self-esteem in the dog-eat-dog world of contemporary showbiz, set in a Hollywood eatery. Veteran scribe Bobrick offers 12 vignettes as a sharp ensemble cast tackles multiple roles in these sardonically hilarious encounters.

Director Walter Painter maximizes the fun in an atmospherically designed production. Accomplished thespian Phil Proctor masters roles ranging from a manipulative mogul to a spouse older than he pretends to be. Jeffrey Landman plays slimy creeps to optimum comic effect, including an unscrupulous writing partner and a sneaky hit man. Scott Kruse is charming and hilarious playing ambitious young men, some naïve and some conniving. As the friendly waitress, Gail Matthius savors the chance to reveal this character’s backstory in a rueful closing segment. Darrin Revitz and Rachel Boller likewise sparkle in a variety of zesty roles. —Les Spindle

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