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May 31, 2019:

At The Table reviewed by Rob Stevens

Blake Young-Fountain, Avery Clyde, Christian Prentice and Justin Okin (photo by Lizzy Kimball)

With friends like these who needs enemies? That would surely be my reaction to spending a weekend in an isolated country house anywhere with people like those that playwright Michael Perlman has populated his play At The Table, currently receiving its Los Angeles Premiere at The Road Theatre Company, with. Even if I got to spend occasional weekends in a stylishly furnished house in the Catskills (the scenic design by Brian Graves is the production’s highpoint) where there seems to be plenty of good food and free flowing wine. Nate (Christian Prentice), a divorced dad of two young girls, is the owner and host although most of the work of hosting (preparing meals, cleaning up and keeping everyone entertained) seems to fall to Lauren (Cherish Monique Duke). Lauren is in a combative relationship with the crude Stuart (Justin Okin). Elliot (Ray Paolantonio) is Lauren’s longtime gay friend, since eighth grade. Elliot is single and lonely so Lauren attempts to fix him up with her new young gay friend Nicholas (Blake Young Fountain). But she has informed neither of her intentions and the weekend is off to a bumpy start. Elliot has also invited a new friend, feminist Chris (Avery Clyde), to meet his old friends. Although she claims to have a boyfriend, Chris and Nate strike sparks that are difficult to extinguish or hide. Nearly 16 months later we are back in the Catskills with the core four plus one along with two new additions. Nate and Chris are definitely a couple now but Stuart has thrown over Lauren for Sophie (Jacqueline Misaye) while Elliot has seemingly found a boyfriend in the young Leif (Nick Marcone). Long simmering resentments boil over and friendships seem to be irrevocably changed. The acting is competent under Judith Moreland’s direction but the actors are more points of view rather than flesh and blood characters. Perlman has written speeches rather than dialogue.

The Road Theatre Company, 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Ends July 20. www.roadtheatre.or

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