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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
By Jana J. Monji

The glimmer of made-it-big-in-Hollywood glamour may have dimmed with the absence of Friends star David Schwimmer in the extension of this successful run of writer and director Roger Kumble's Turnaround. But even without Schwimmer and Tom Everett Scott, this play flows smoothly, well oiled with insider knowledge and split second comic timing of a top knotch cast in this final month at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood.

Gary (Gabriel Macht who takes over from Scott) lives in a pricey Hollywood Hills pad with a lovely view of the Hollywood sign that mocks his current state. Delivery pizza boxes, old newspapers and many empty bottles of booze clutter this once tastefully appointed house.

Curtains drawn to keep out curious eyes and the cheery sunlight, Gary is binging on drugs, waiting for his friend Richie (Jonathan Silverman) to take him on an intervention of a friend. Jeff (Mark Feuerstein who replaces Schwimmer), a director whose most recent offering has tanked, drops by for his tennis racket, a few lines of coke and some sparring with the more successful Richie.

In the second act, things seem to be looking up for Gary. He's clean. His friend Jeff has sold his script on the Holocaust -- but there's a slight problem. Jeff claimed the story was true instead of a computer-generated amalgamation of two Oscar-winning movies (think Forrest Gump colliding with Life is Beautiful.).

The deal hinges upon a lie; Gary's sobriety depends upon him telling the truth. Now the drug is fame and it's perks. Jeff and Richie each want a piece of the action Gary is getting. Seth, Gary's mentor for his post-addiction life, isn't totally clean of the Hollywood wannabe allure. His folksie ways and laid-back demeanor hides some festering issues.The key is one Hollywood high-class hooker (Jaime Ray Newman), more ferocious than the male whores here but just as much a part of the sleazy Hollywood game.

Kumble's cautionary tale has made cocaine seem almost attractive. His first act is filled with hilarious, boyish rituals that tie the main characters together in their own boy's club although the mainstay of their friendships seems to be competitive jealousy. The second act is grimmer, moving from sexual playing between Gary's friends and the call girl to the circling of predators eyeing each other, looking for the weakest member to devour.

All the cast members attack their roles with a multilayered knowledge as players in a game still being played. Kumble takes some of the sparkle out of Tinseltown lore yet this production burns bright as an exceptional evening of theater.

Written and directed by Roger Kumble
Cast: Gabriel Macht (Gary), Mark Feuerstein (Jeff), Jonathan Silverman (Richie), John DiMaggio (Seth), Jaime Ray Newman (Sahara).
Set Design: Greg Grande
Lighting Design: Christie Wright
Costume Design: Julie Heath
Sound Design: Eric Pargac
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Dark Harbor Stories at the Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.(866) 468-3399
Wed.-Thurs. & Sun., 8 p.m.; Sat., 6 & 9 p.m.; thru March 30.
Review of March 8 performance.
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