Paul (Robert Fileta) is 25 and on top: he has a devoted girlfriend, Nina (Heather Kjos); lives rent-free; and has a paying gig at a newspaper. It's not enough for him, though: he can't get past Page 30 on his novel, is unsure about his impending marriage, and has unresolved issues with his father.
That may seem like the end of the world to twentysomethings, but it's laughable to everyone else, most of whom will likely want to give Paul a swift, hard kick in the ass to get him out of his incessant navel-gazing.
By their nature, writers as protagonists are a poor choice. They're moody, solitary beings, banging away on keyboards or scratching furtive notes on legal pads. The final product (book, play, article) is what's most interesting about a writer—not the process, which is so internal it's a snoozer.
That lack of conflict—our hero doesn't do anything except sit around and whine—hangs over the play like a cloud that eventually settles over the other, more interesting characters. He suffocates them with his ennui.
Director Oahn Nguyen (who co-wrote with three other writers) knows this and attempts to kickstart the play throughout the very long, overwritten first act by letting his actors shout and bang on doors shamelessly. It doesn't help because it's during the second act, when the actors are more muted, that the three best scenes happen: between Paul's no-bullshit sister Dani (Amy Blomquist) and his horndog best friend Robert (Casey Long); a touching discussion between Dani and Nina; and a confrontation between Nina and Paul. Then the "acting" disappears and we catch a solid—albeit brief—glimpse of real people.
But I Don't Feel Grown Up at the Chance Theater, 5576 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 777-3033. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through Sept. 19. $13-$15.
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