A Curse Upon This House!

Ever wonder what happens to the really, really bad ideas that television executives reject? It's conceivable they end up in the theater. Consider Roma's House, a so-called musical comedy currently stinking up the boards at Stages.

Six characters of varying sexual orientations live in the same house and deal with the slings and arrows of modern love's misfortune—singing about it all the while. Though the play seems to aim for nothing higher than the clever repartee of the average sitcom and the cheesy entertainment of the average musical, it undershoots both. What's most damnable isn't that the show plods; it's the silly exploration of sexuality. Rather than being an organic element of the characters, the alternative sexuality seems merely tacked on, like a toupee or a pair of sunglasses. It's trite—when it's not borderline offensive in its intellectual deficiency. Most of all, it's completely irrelevant and just not true to life.

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The music, such as it is, doesn't help. It's supplied by a rather bored-looking trio of musicians propped at the far end of the stage, strumming and thumping along to a preprogrammed MIDI piano track.

If these guys weren't wooden enough, the actors seem to have been cast on the basis of being able to carry a tune rather than flesh out a character. Though most of the cast can sing, neither playwright Artie O'Daly's poorly defined characters nor Keola Simpson's artless direction helps these actors find depth in their characters.

I hate to criticize someone trying to orchestrate a play that requires blending several different theatrical elements, but I'm nothing if not human—and, like all humans, I'm prone to lash out when in the throes of mortal agony.

Advice? Glad you asked: How about skipping the on-the-nose, superficial dialogue? Add a little subtext to your characters. And rather than expending so much effort on a two-hour rambling exercise that says little, why not focus on an hour's worth of pointed repartee interspersed with maybe three well-crafted musical numbers? Your critics and fidgety audience members would certainly appreciate it.

Roma's House at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth, Fullerton, (714) 525-4484. Sat., 9 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Through Jan. 20. $14.

 
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