June 11, 2004





'Light's' eccentrics dwell in shadows


With last year's "Yellow Flesh/Alabaster Rose," Erik Patterson emerged as a compelling new voice who could fashion strangely seductive drama and mine richly moving comedy from the deep domestic trauma of a broken family as it pieced itself back together.


In his new sequel, "Red Light Green Light," Patterson's complicated empathy for his flawed characters, as well as his disarming wit, are in full effect. But the drama is faltering and unfocused, as this eccentric extended family, once happily assembled, faces the ever after part.


Gay teacher Elliot (Patterson on the night reviewed) remains an almost painfully needy soul, though he has an endearing protectiveness for a little sister (exquisitely touching Mandy Freund who believes she's pop diva Bjork. When Elliot's sensitive new lover Caleb (Trevor H. Olsen) momentarily leaves him alone on a street in West Hollywood, a bitterly homophobic neighbor (Stewart Skelton) taunts and gravely injures him with a pipe.


This senseless bashing sends his circle of loved ones--including his volatile stripper sister (Jennifer Ann Evans), survivor mother (Sarah Lilly), and pregnant goth niece (radiant Rachel Kann)--for a loop, in a series of reiterative confessional monologues. Patterson doesn't need these; when he writes actual scenes--between Caleb and his concerned mother (Judith Ann Levitt), between Elliott and a hustler neighbor (Brad C. Light), between a resentful son (Alan Loayza) and his deadbeat dad (Scott McKinley)--the play snaps and sparkles.


Director Miguel Montalvo gives the play a slightly dizzying urban whirl, on an evocative all-around avenue set by Jason Adams and Alicia Hoge. But Patterson's "Red Light Green Light" moves fitfully amid this stop-and-go traffic.

--Rob Kendt


"Red Light Green Light," Theatre of NOTE, 1517 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends July 10. $15. (323) 856-8611. Running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes.