Volcano BLOWS

Writers R.A. Blankenship Jr. and Kevin Darne (who also “directed”) must have watched a lot of after-school specials to perfect the platitudes in this hourlong abomination posing as a play. Ostensibly about racial intolerance, Volcanobrims with can't-we-all-just-get-along speechifying, ham-fisted acting, and characters so poorly drawn they aren't even good enough to be called clichs.

Crippled Alicia (Stacy Bellew) introduces her black beau, Dominick (Louis Hale), to her bigoted, alcoholic father and enabling mother, who are visiting her in New York. A lot of alcohol-fueled screaming and gunplay ensues, and you just know things are going to end badly. How badly? Here are three of the play's laughably bad moments from the ending:

1) The father kills the boyfriend in a fit of anger. He and his daughter then have a levelheaded conversation in which he sees the error of his ways, until police kick in the door and shoot him to death.

2) With the corpses of her lover and father on the floor, Alicia gets to utter the following camp-classic lines: “Don't cry, Momma. Everything's going to be fine. Dominick and Daddy are in heaven now, where there is no prejudice.” Yep, you read right.

3) To make matters worse, the two dead men then fly/ walk up to heaven and sing “Amazing Grace” together.

The whole artless mess is incompetently acted by most of the cast, except for a few sympathetic moments by Bellew, Hale and Steven Toth's bartender. While they aren't fully to blame because the script is such a big pile—not that Darne bothered directing them, either—didn't anyone in the cast read it before agreeing to do the play?

Volcano at the Ensemble Theatre, 844 E. Lincoln Ave., Ste. E, Orange, (949) 263-4170; www.ensembletheatre.org. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m. Through March 11. $18-$20.

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