p_2253_i_5205437 Michael Hyland and Tracy Eliott do very good work in Callie Kimball’s May 39th as a couple whose one-night-stand 1000 years into the future might lead to something more, that is if their clones have anything to do with it … and should the couple be fortunate enough to be granted a “purple exemption.”

As this mini-synopsis might suggest, May 39th (the title is never explained) is more likely to appeal to those willing to accept the playwright’s very quirky Futureworld (clones? purple exemptions?) than this reviewer, who found Kimball’s one-act rather too fantastic for my tastes—and not in a fantastic = good way.

Admittedly, I’m not what you’d call a fan of Alternate Universe Sci-Fi. (Say the words “post-apocalyptic world” and you’ve already lost me.) And so once it became clear that “romantic renegade” Sam and Center For Proteonomics employee Louisa inhabit a world whose technical terminology I spent the first ten minutes trying in vain to decipher, I found it hard to identify with their hopes and wants and frustrations and needs. (For instance, though Louisa is genetically incapable of feeling pain, poor thing, I didn’t really care.)

Hyland and Eliott do their darnedest to make Sam and Louisa more than two-dimensional, but I ended up rooting for neither, and when May 39th took a sudden and (as far as I could tell) unexplained detour into tie-me-up territory, they lost me.

As for May 39th’s 11th-hour surprise twist, I found it more silly than satisfying, though it did at least explain some of what had gone on before.

Richard Tatum’s direction is solid and the production’s uncredited design elements make the most of Fringe requirements and restrictions. Lighting in particular is quite good.

May 39th is an Absolute Theatre production. Matt Fowler and Bren Coombs are stage managers.

Ultimately, though Tatum, Hyland, and Elliot have tried their hardest, Kimball’s script proves too great a stumbling block for three L.A. theater talents whose work has been more positively showcased in past efforts.

–Steven Stanley
June 22, 2015