“How can you mend a broken heart?” asked the BeeGees a few decades back. If you are actor Malcome Danare, you write a play. The result of Danare’s 2006 heartbreak is In Heat, a “comedy in four one-acts,” currently playing at The Lost Studio, and a very funny and original comedy it is.

The only thing linking In Heat’s four one-acts is an L.A. heat wave (and appropriately, Sunday’s performance took place in the midst of record heat). Correction: There is one other thing linking the playlets—laughter.

First up is Carbs, which opens with Sydney (Robin Thomas) excitedly hiding a bedside bottle of chilled champagne before getting in bed and feigning sleep. Enter wife Olivia (Rebecca Klingler), dramatically wondering aloud why Sydney has been hiding food from her, like the cold cuts and cheese she found in the back of the fridge. Hubby clearly is waiting for a chance to uncover and uncork the champagne but wife won’t pipe down long enough to let him do so. Just what does Sydney want to celebrate, and might it have something to do with the audition actress Olivia went on today, the first in years? 

Next, in Genes and Chromosomes, we move to a terrace overlooking downtown L.A., which a height-challenged bald man (Kyle T. Heffner) finds himself sharing with a blonde of supermodel stature and beauty (Shana Sosin). Learning that her terrace companion’s name is Fred sets Sophie off on a string of Flintstone jokes, followed by a discussion of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in honor of lead singer Freddie Mercury. When Sophie begins to flirt with the “little fellow” (“You know this is no way to be treating your future wife.”), Fred (and the audience) begin to wonder, Could this gorgeous Amazon actually be interested in a man half her size?

Working Out takes place at a Starbucks, where Gary (Danare) is on the phone when his buddy Neil (John Kapelos) arrives sweaty from the gym. “I’m schwitzing like Mel Gibson at a Passover dinner,” declares Neil, just before the first of many glances around the coffee shop to ogle (and comment on) the hot babes he sees there. Gary’s mind is on other matters, namely his ex, whose return call Gary has been awaiting for eight months now. “Just get over her!” declares Neil. “She did you a favor by leaving,” followed by some friendly advice to “put it out there. You’ll be eating pie in no time.” Then Neil is back to girl watching, and commenting on “vertical smiles” and “camel toes.” Will Neil be able to convince his friend to move on, or will Gary just keep obsessing about the woman who got away? 

Finally, in Perfect Timing, we spend some time on Sunset Boulevard with a couple on a blind date. Faith (Mary Mara) and Paul (Jon Lindstrom) have just had dinner in a vegetarian restaurant, and Paul declares, “Who wouldn’t want coagulated tofu instead of a nice juicy steak.” (Clearly the choice of eateries was Faith’s.) This romantic comedy turns screwball when kooky Faith spots an injured rat on the street, the victim of a hit and run, which leads to some very funny Dirty Harry inspired moments. Will this blind date be their first and only, or will these strangers in the night become lovers at first sight?

Danare’s four one-acts are funny and unpredictable, and director James Eckhouse (himself a well-known talented actor) keeps the performances real and the sparks flying. The casts couldn’t be better. Thomas and Klingler have great marital chemistry, Heffner and Sosin are an unlikely but sympathetic duo, Danare and Kapelos are hilarious a la The Odd Couple, and squeaky voiced Mara and Lindstrom are charming indeed.

Another of the evening’s stars is Victoria Proffitt, whose brilliantly modular set, moved about by a perfectly choreographed cast to create four distinct and well-rendered locations. Kudos also to Derrick McDaniel’s lighting, Marilyn Vance’s costumes, and Michael Stock’s sound (with a high five to Stock for the rat sounds!).

For light adult entertainment and a chance to see one of the best casts in town, In Heat proves a great way to beat the summer heat.

The Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea, Los Angeles.

–Steven Stanley
June 22, 2008

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