What begins as a solo performance by a recently fired talk radio “shock jock”  
who was “paid to be a jerk” soon turns into an affecting two person play about 
a doomed romantic relationship in Sacred Fools’ West Coast Premiere of William 
Donnelly’s The Gas House.  

The production, which stars TV’s electric Marc Jablon (recently recurring on E.R.) 
and features a lovely supporting turn by Supatra Hanna, has been effectively 
directed by Suzanne Karpinski, and is running on Tuesdays and Wednesday 
(concurrent with the mainstage production of Drood).

The use of Drood’s Chinese restaurant/opium den-like set, modified to resemble 
failed radio DJ Don Berlin’s mess of an apartment, lends a distinctively quirky 
tone to the proceedings, which begin with Berlin making excuses to the 
audience for his job loss. “Radio’s not my thing. I’m really an actor,” he tells us, 
though soon, in a great monolog (or soliloquy—he can’t decide which) he 
informs us that he’s writing a screenplay with the improbable title Dead Pain, 
which features a smuggler named “Spimoza.” The screenplay is far from finished, 
however. Berlin spurns the use of a computer, his pen is out of ink, and he breaks 
the pencil lead as soon as he begins writing.  He’s the kind of loveable loser we 
want to see succeed yet whose capacity for success we sincerely doubt.

We soon meet his beautiful estranged wife Adria. Both Berlin and Adria clearly 
still care for each other, yet we can see why their relationship has gone on the 
rocks. She wants to talk, but he refuses to be engaged in conversation, 
explaining “that’s what I do for a living.”  (After all, who wants to take his work 
home with him?)  Adria is a published poet, which Berlin finds an odd 
occupation, “like a knight or a smithy.” At the same time, we see that her 
success as a writer irks him, one of many reasons why these two people can’t be 
together; it’s just too much work. Adria tells Berlin, “You can’t hurt me anymore.  
I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the capacity.”  And though he is 
hoping for a reconciliation, she just wants him to move on.  “Elephants grieve, 
but they go on living,” she tells him.

Jablon gives a fiery performance as a man jobless and alone, who misses his wife 
now in the same way she missed him during their marriage, when he was gone 
eighteen to twenty-four hours a day. Jablon has the “shock jock” brand of 
sarcastic humor down pat, but he reveals layers of pain beneath the couldn’t-
care-less exterior, little by little letting his guard down and revealing 
vulnerability. Jablon’s costar Hanna gives a strong and touching performance 
as a woman who cares enough for Berlin to tell him sincerely, “I’m not here for 
you to be with.  I’m sorry,” but not enough to return to this man who left her 
alone most of the time.  “I was here,” she tells him now.  “Where were you?”

Playwright Donnelly understands his two characters’ need for each other 
despite their inability to find happiness in their relationship. He has written two 
complex roles, which Jablon and Hanna bring vividly to life, and a stunning 
double whammy of an ending.  Producer Jaime Andrews played Adria in the 
New York production, and we can thank her for introducing L.A. audiences to 
this brief (about 75 minutes running time) but powerful look at a couple for 
whom love was not enough.

Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
September 26, 2007
Photos: Haven Hartman

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