Bail Me Out, LA

Written by:
Karen Weinstein
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Bail Me Out   

By Renato Biribin Jr.
Directed by Joshua Fardon
Hudson Guild Theatre
Los Angeles
Through Oct. 10, 2010

Renato Biribin Jr. (right) and Scott Alan Hislop in “Bail Me Out”

The phrase that came to mind when I sat down to write this review was: not ready for prime time.  It kept coming back to haunt me. 

Where should I start?  “Bail Me Out” is by first-time playwright Renato Biribin Jr., who also plays the lead, Joe, a rough-around-the-edges, small-town New Jersey guy with a tire store and a huge chip on his shoulder … or so we are led to believe. His is supposed to be an updated Archie Bunker — please try to catch the glimmer of a heart of gold; I think it is supposed to be there. He is prejudiced against any minority who is mentioned. He is loyal to his best friend, Ray, a podiatrist who is sitting in jail on a marijuana charge that happens to have a complication. Along with the pot, Ray was caught performing fellatio on his lover in a public place. Ray has called Joe to bail him out of jail, but in the process obviously must reveal he is gay. This throws Joe into a tailspin. It turns out that this lover is a black preacher married to Joe’s high school sweetheart, who jilted him. Joe’s bigotry is doubly engaged a number of scenes down the road. Or is it tripled?

The premise is not necessarily bad, and the set is attractively spare. It serves for anything from the jail to the tire store or a bar in the fictional small town. The 14 scene changes are actually handled fairly well, mostly morphing from one location to another without pause. 

The fatal flaws? you ask. Well, for starters, there is a glaring lack of chemistry between any of the seven actors. Their pseudo New Jersey accents are created by rapid-fire, often hard-to-understand speech and little more. Need I go into a discussion of individual actors? Suffice it to say none shone, and the two women were even worse than the guys. It was a real chore to care about what happened to any individual character. To be honest, I will not waste your time going into any of the sup-plots.

I think I have misspoken. “Bail Me Out” is not just unready for prime time, it would have a hard time getting considered as the basis for a new soap.

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