Love Stinks, or Am I Just Smelling This Play?

Sometimes I encounter a show in which my reaction is so opposite to that of the loud guy sitting next to me—the guy saying, "This is the greatest" and humming every time scene-change music is played —that I think, "Maybe I'm not really watching a play that belongs as a sitcom on the Lifetime network." However, on reflection, Gun-Shy, currently receiving its Southern California premiere at the Laguna Playhouse, really is nothing more than a two-hour sitcom trying to pass itself off as something more titillating and edgy.

Richard Dresser's script gives us the recently divorced Duncan (Paul O' Brien) and Evie (Tracy Lore) and their respective rebound relationships, Caitlin (Stacy Solodkin) and Carter (Robert Lee Jacobs). Duncan is negotiating a midlife crisis (but has a soft spot for kids), Evie is the stereotypical "C-word" (that's "controlling," but with a soft spot for kids), Carter is a wannabe Alpha Male trapped in a Gamma Male's body (without a soft spot for kids), and Caitlin is a status-conscious anorexic looking for acceptance (but not looking for a kid). As the new couples try to work out their differences, they are shuttled through situations too obvious to be called clich toward a final confrontation that should be spotted before intermission. Occasionally, J.D. Roberto appears, playing a variety of character parts that are, inevitably, much more interesting than the characters the plot is ostensibly about.

None of this would be offensive in the slightest (just another slightly witty, sometimes funny look at modern relationships in a seemingly never-ending string) if this show wasn't being marketed as a "no-holds-barred" look at relationships. Many holds have, in fact, been barred on this stage. There's nothing remotely provocative or tantalizing about this script. It's just another slightly naughty look at modern love designed to make middle-agers feel risqu. And if that's what you need to make it through the night, you'll love this show.

Gun-Shy at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-ARTS. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Through June 25. $31-$40.


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