Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

Rita Rudner and Charles Shaughnessy are starring in the two person comedy Act 3 over at the Laguna Playhouse.  Although already somewhat familiar with the pair of them, I was neither adoring nor critical enough to enter the theater with any real expectations. Had I given it any real thought, I might have suspected a story about two lovers hating and loving one another simultaneously might be too slow for my taste.  As it turns out, I would have been correct. Act 3 starts out with an interesting idea, but it is forced to wind down prematurely when the lead actress’s motives become vague, and the potentially witty jokes are performed without punch.

Rita Rudner and Charles Shaughnessy respectively play the roles of She and He.  He is a fairly successful writer, and She is some sort of fashion designer. ( She invented an inflatable hanger that doubles as a neck pillow).  They have been living together unmarried for about twelve years now. She’s a ditz, and He’s a snob.  One day, in the throes of some elitist lecture, He criticizes her ability to speak and write intelligently. She warns him to make a note of the date.  She’s going to “surprise” him. Since the bickering began with his assertion she is too simple-minded to write a successful book, you might think she was going to prove him wrong when she produces critically and/or publicly acclaimed story or play..  Instead she executes a less ambitious plan –opting to purchase a dictionary and thesaurus to trick He into thinking she is another woman when she e-mails him a coherent paragraph.  Why on earth would anyone think woman was an idiot? Her ruse is successful, and the happy love child of She Loves Me and John Tucker Must Die gets underway.

The acting itself is fine but it lacks the punch that makes one double over. Both Shaughnessy and Rudner were playing their roles in a somewhat subtle fashion. Their characters were fairly soft-spoken and did not over-emphasize their words when about to say a witty remark. One might consider this a positive, but it did not work in this instance because the jokes were simply not that funny.  Oh, they were funny, just not that funny.  

So I can understand why someone would want to see a show that speaks to their own experience.  However, this show speaks to the human experience without making it lively or interesting.  She looks into her partner’s affairs online, but her own goals are not specific enough, and her pain is not real enough until the end of the show.  Throughout the night we are expected to chortle at the tricks she plays as a fictional woman online but do not get to see many of her real interactions with him until the very end, and this damages our emotional connection to the both of them, as well as our ability to care.

January 6 – 31, 2016

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