September 17, 2004





Dysfunctional cop has quite a case


Like the shlubby vice cop who sees untapped potential in a young hooker, we keep recognizing promising signs in "Blue Surge," Rebecca Gilman's 2001 play about the terrible loneliness of class. But in director Anthony Meindl's uneven new production for the MetaTheatre Company, the parts don't add up to a persuasive whole.


Put-upon detective Curt (Josh Levy) is pinned by myriad pressures. His department is gung-ho to shut down a massage parlor abutting a family restaurant; his sophomoric partner, Doug (Greg Hoyt), hilariously bungles the sting with boyish over-eagerness, while his longtime girlfriend, Beth (Julie Upton), is on his case to fight for a promotion.


But by far the most oppressive force weighing on Curt is his bleak working-class upbringing. It's this lumpen background as much as sexual attraction that draws him to Sandy (Kristy Kidd), a matter- of-fact whore whose family history competes with his for dysfunction.


Gilman writes tart, convincing, often funny exchanges and builds up to bracing confrontations.


Meindl has cast expertly to type: Kidd in particular has exactly the right blankly damaged prettiness, and as her hard-partying colleague, Andrea Davis earns her laughs.


But Meindl's earnest direction pours on the pathos a bit thick, and his attempts to bridge the many set changes between scenes, with a pair of sashaying sweeties pulling Sara Huddleston's hospital-like curtains back and forth, only dissipate the play's gathering tension.


In short, this "Blue Surge" is good enough to swell our expectations but not fine enough to meet them.

-- Rob Kendt


"Blue Surge," MetaTheatre Company at the Third Street Theatre, 8140 W. 3rd St., West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 17. $20. (323) 993-7113. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.