July 1, 2005
The word "promising" has a double edge when applied to a new talent: It means that we foresee great things in an artist that we can see only dimly in their work so far. That's precisely the case with writer-director Anthony Q. Farrell's amiable new anthology play, "Room," which offers some fresh, offhanded spins on comic cliches before sputtering into a jokey collective shrug.
Farrell starts strong with a case of prehistoric class envy: An industrious caveman (Eric Hailey) has created the "first room," leading his neighbor (Matt Braunger) to fixate on the things he could get away with in such privacy.
Braunger returns to great effect in the next bit, as a man prone to scathing outbursts when he's off his meds. A later scene features the utterly winning Heather Klinke as a flinty biddy in a nightgown, left in heaven's waiting room to make small talk and sample a cheese plate. And unflappable team player Hailey memorably gets jiggy in little more than a fig leaf and angel's wings.
Farrell's cast couldn't be better or subtler. If he punched up two of his less distinguished sketchesÑa sex chat room scam, a "Jerry Springer" scrimmageÑand scrapped the endearing but distracting mime antics of Mark Teich, Farrell's "Room" would be much more inviting.
"Room," the Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Wednesdays. Ends July 27. $10. (323) 957-1152. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.