News of his girlfriend’s pregnancy sends a 30something writer on a 24-hour journey of self-discovery in Scott Caan’s World Premiere comedy The Trouble We Come From, the actor-writer’s smart, funny companion piece to his previous Falcon Theatre hit No Way Around But Through.
Conspicuously absent from tonight’s celebration is Charlie’s Australian girlfriend Shelly (Claire van der Boom), off for an unplanned visit with her Detroit-residing parents following Charlie’s rather ambivalent reaction to her “I’m having a baby” bombshell.
Shelly’s precipitous departure has prompted Charlie to invite his sultry Cuban ex Joanna (Teri Reeves) to tonight’s opening, perhaps not the cleverest move given his lengthy “best sex ever” history with the Latina bombshell.
Further complicating matters is Samantha (Reeves returning as ex number two), whose decision to break-and-enter Charlie’s pad as a preamble to sex, or at least to leave visible evidence of her visit, i.e. some red lace panties draped in plain view across the sofa, could prove a problem should Shelly change her mind about Detroit and head back home.
Adding to Charlie’s confusion is The Blonde (Reeves in the third of four roles), whom he just happened to bump into outside the theater, and who has made it abundantly clear that she finds Charlie just about the cutest thing since sliced bread.
All this we learn over the course of a first act buddy-to-buddy chat, Vince doing his darnedest to help Charlie try to figure out which path to take. And if this weren’t already enough, there’s still Kelly (Reeves in role number four) to contend with, i.e. the one who really got away … even if it was via email. (Ouch!)
Caan’s dialog snaps and crackles like real speech, and the friendship he has created between two very different protagonists is equally authentic, aided and abetted by Matt August’s incisive direction and a pair of terrific lead performances.
Caan is that rarity, a film/TV star with a love of live theater, and he accomplishes his writer-actor double duty at the Falcon with considerable talent and panache. (The audaciousness of the meta twist that ends The Trouble We Come From deserves particular oohs and aahs.)
As for Weston, not only has Caan written the charismatic Southland stage favorite a marvelously multifaceted character to play, an assignment that has Weston front and center from start to finish, the talented leading man is so thoroughly likeable in his latest role that he keeps you rooting for Charlie throughout.
The stunning Reeves nails the plum assignment of bringing to diverse life four different women, with special snaps for her diametrically opposed Joanna (smoldering sultriness personified) and Kelly (quiet, troubled, and touching).
The Trouble We Come From looks quite sensational on the Falcon Theatre stage, beginning with scenic designer Stephen Gifford’s stylish apartment set, one you might well find yourself wanting to move into. Luke Moyer’s lighting is as good as it gets, with an inspired use of moving spots in flashback sequences that I can’t recall ever seeing in a straight play. John M. McElveney once again proves himself the go-to designer where props are concerned, Kathryn Poppen’s costumes are effectively character-revealing, and Robert Arturo Ramirez’s sound design is tops as well. (Kudos for the refrigerator alarm, something else I’ve never seen, or rather heard, on stage.)
Dale Alan Cook is stage manager, Mike Jespersen technical director and Claudio Radocchia sound operator.
Understudies Willem Long and Summer Spiro cover all seven roles between them.
Like playwright/star Caan’s previous Nowhere Around But Through, The Trouble We Come From centers on a young man’s reaction to impending fatherhood, but takes its hero on a less literal journey. Whereas Caan’s 2012 comedy had its father-to-be setting off on a road-trip for answers, his latest takes a more figurative path (and one without the lengthy scene changes that slowed his first play down).
I called Nowhere Around But Through “an unexpected pre-summer treat.” The Trouble We Come From is even tastier.
Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank.
June 12, 2105
Photos: Jill Mamey