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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Bad Hurt on Cedar Street
The unwanted pregnancy Ed forced on his wife resulted in a mentally retarded daughter, Phoebe (Iris Gilad). Her uncontrollable behavior is a source of conflict between husband and wife, as she grows stronger and they grow older. Another war victim is son Kent (Grant Sullivan) who returned from the Gulf War in such bad shape that he requires constant drugs which keep him "evaporating" in his bedroom. Todd (Jeff Cole), the only apparently normal child, is a bus driver bent on getting on the police force although his dad tells him, "No one wants you. You're not that kind of material."
Don't feel too sorry for Phoebe. She's in love with a guy who loves her back, Willy (Laurence Cohen), a retarded boy who managed to poke a hole in her bedroom wall so he can stroke her hair and she can suck his thumb. The kids are also lucky in having a devoted mom in Elaine (Lisa Richards) who loves them as they are and all the time.
Structurally the play could use another pass through the refining process. Each character has a problem and all but the retarded have a secret or a repression to work out, making it all a little too neatly schematic. The baseball scene which demonstrates the conflict between Ed and Todd is too long and technical. But it's an unforgettable and unusual play by a perceptive writer.
Director Salome Jens keeps the characters very honest. Iris Gilad as Phoebe and Laurence Cohen as Willy are particularly memorable and never overplay their parts. Veterans Mendillo and Richards ground the play as parents who almost lose all joy in the stress of devastating responsibilities but playwright Kemble, though not succumbing to the impossible attempt to craft a happy ending, indicates options for his characters and, best of all, ones they can create for themselves. James Eric and Victoria Bellocq have designed an intricate multi-level set that gives scope to the constricted blue-collar world which this challenged family's vitality keeps pulsing.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater