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Theatre Review (LA): The Return to Morality by Jamie Pachino at the Lex Theatre

One of my favorite little theatre companies, The Production Company, astounded me when they presented a feasible and successful production ofSweeney Todd in their tiny space on Chandler Boulevard, and they continue to do good work at their new location, the Lex Theatre in Hollywood. T.L. Kolman and August Viverito are the producers and are responsible for trying to bring quality productions to an intimate space. Their latest venture is a play called The Return to Morality by Jamie Pachino, directed by Mark L. Taylor.

The Return to Morality is not a perfect play but its premise is fascinating. What if a man wrote a satire of current right wing thinking only to be misunderstood as having espoused those very views he is sending up? In fact, the writer becomes a star and is asked (more like forced) to give the keynote address at the Republican convention. In the course of the play we see the sheer stupidity of his readers and see how fame can be a corrupting influence even on the purest of souls.

Director Taylor, one of the busier around town, has assembled a good cast. Kevin Weisman gives a winning performance as the hapless writer. Others in the cast are Jennifer Lyn Davis, Ace Gibson, Christy Keller, Catherine O’Conner, and an over-the-top Jim Hanna who really must learn to tone down the decibels. He plays an intimidating publisher but uses volume to intimidate when whispering can be just as daunting.

The Return to Morality is as hard-hitting as it is humorous. Sometimes the satiric arrow is so on target and true to the circumstances of real life that I cringed more than laughed. For anyone interested in the role of media, distortion, and just bad luck in politics, this is your play. The Return to Morality will play at The Lex Theatre until September 8.

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