What do you get when you combine two emotionally repressed gay men, one confused woman, one abusive adulterer, an obsessive lesbian, a psychic hooker with a heart of gold and a madman? Answer: Rude Guerrilla theater's tangled production of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. Playwright Brad Fraser's script explores love and sex from a variety of viewpoints: man and man, man and woman, woman and woman, professional and client. Guilt, obsession and denial collide in a complicated word tapestry. Fraser tries to cover so much of love and sex (and a serial killer, too!), that whatever message he hoped to impart is lost in a sea of breasts and blood—unless the message is that it sucks to live in Edmonton.
Director Dave Barton has assembled a talented cast, but he has not used them to the fullest. Scenes and locations flow smoothly, but the unspiraling events are all given equal weight, leading to an overall lack of build throughout the evening. It's a difficult play, full of stylized, overlapping dialogue, multiple locations that can only be hinted at in the close confines of the Empire Theatre, and several fairly graphic onstage sex acts. Throw in a noisy air conditioner and unhelpful lighting design, and you've got a play that's difficult, if not impossible, to follow.
There are high points. Todd Kulczyk's portrayal of David, the TV actor turned waiter, is a nice mix of desperation and cynicism. Christy Zollar as Benita, the "working girl," is a wonderful blend of mystery and humor.
If for no other reason, give credit to Rude Guerrilla for tackling such a risky play.
Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love at the Empire Theatre, 200 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 547-4688. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Through Sept. 12. $10-$12.
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