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

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Justin Tanner is one of Los Angeles’ most dependable playwrights. Since 1987 he has produced many plays using the same group of actors he met in Los Angeles City College, expanding his troupe as the years progress. Up until now most of his plays were produced at the Zephyr Theatre in West Hollywood, which seemed the natural place since another LA playwright, Del Shores, had also used that venue frequently. The last Justin Tanner piece at the Zephyr was Voice Lessons with Laurie Metcalf, French Stewart, and Maile Flanagan. After a hugely successful run it has moved on to Off Broadway with the same cast for a brief run.

Both playwrights have moved on, Del Shores to the Coast where he is presenting Yellow, and Tanner to the Odyssey Theatre where he is presenting his latest play, Procreation. He claims the play is semi-autobiographical but it features much of the same kind of dysfunction and hilarious depravity that has become his trademark. His plays are not great works of art but they are extremely entertaining. Procreation doesn’t disappoint.

Hope (a bossy Melissa Denton) is planning a birthday party for her alcoholic mother (Danielle Kennedy) which provides the reason, or should I say excuse, to gather the family for a reunion. Well, for the most part they really don’t get along, and in fact despise one another. In the course of the play secrets are revealed and lives change. Son Gavin, played with his belly hanging out by a funny Kody Batchelor, comes out of the closet. Hope’s siblings also have things they are hiding which come into play. Her brother (Gary Holland) is having an affair with her husband (Andy Marshall Daley), but chooses to bring home a trick (a briefly nude Michael Halpin) much to the consternation of everyone else. But there is also some love present in this family. You just have to forgive them because they are so messed up.

The catalyst for all the family disintegration, or at least for bringing it out into the open, is Mom, who has a secret to reveal that sets everyone on their collective asses. The evening is a rollicking good time with lots of funny lines and outlandish situations. David Schweitzer directs. This is Tanner’s 20th produced play. Procreation will play at the Odyssey Theatre until August 15th.

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About Robert Machray

  • yrighty

    You got some names wrong.
    You said: Her brother (Gary Holland) is having an affair with her husband (Andy Marshall Daley), but chooses to bring home a trick (a briefly nude Michael Halpin)

    It should read: The brother is played by Danny Schmitz;the husband is played by Michael Halpin and the briefly nude trick is played by Gary Holland.