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Theatre Review (LA): Day Drinkers by Justin Tanner at the Odyssey Theatre

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Justin Tanner writes funny plays, well not always plays but extended scenarios. My favorite is Voice Lessons. He has a regular group of actors, including the likes of Maile Flanagan, French Stewart, and Laurie Metcalf. He had a cult hit in Zombie Attack that ran from 1989 to 1999 at the now defunct Cast Theatre. He has written for Gilmore Girls and My So-Called Life on television, and has a “lurid noir web series AVE 43, currently available on YouTube.” All very funny.

He is a master at giving us a humorous perspective on certain desperate “low- lifes” like the dedicated mother in Pot Mom or in the current case of Day Drinkers, a family of drinkers looking for love and booze in the early hours of the morning. His characters love their booze, or their delusions, or their drugs, yet we love them because he makes us understand them and identify with their struggles, as weird or far-out they may seem, because they are looking for redemption which they get through out laughter.

Day Drinkers, currently taking up residence at the Odyssey Theatre, takes place in a bar in downtown LA. The lights aren’t even on in the joint before a pounding is heard on the door demanding entrée and a drink. What a colorful group of characters appear. First we find Jenny (Chloe Taylor) and her barely awake hubby Daniel (Todd Lowe) who own the bar. Their marriage is in trouble and she refuses to have sex with him. We find out later this is because she is having an affair with Caleb’s brother, Caleb (Cody Chappel).

In come the strung out Val (a superb Danielle Kennedy), desperate for drink and sex and her newest paramour Mick (Tom Fitzpatrick). They are followed by Mick’s son Bradley (Tanner vet Jonathan Palmer) who wants to break up this love match to secure his inheritance. We also meet a lesbian couple, the hysterical Sharon (Maile Flanagan) and her bossy lover Kate (Melissa Denton), who are on their way to meet Kate’s homophobic parents.

Through the booze and desperation, hearts are broken then healed and we are left with a love story. Bart Lorenzo, another Tanner vet, directs with his usual masterful hand and manages to keep all these disparate tales flowing to a logical conclusion. Day Drinkers is playing at the Odyssey Theatre until Oct. 9th. Sidle up to the bar for a good laugh.


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