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'Parallel Lives' sketches foibles of modern life, relationships

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Julie Dafydd and Katherine Preble contend well with an unusual setting and a spartan stage to make Parallel Lives, a funny, occasionally insightful, and touching piece of theater. The play, written by Mo Gaffeny and Kathy Najimy, debuted more than 20 years ago Off Broadway and features a series of sketches tied together by issues of gender, sexuality, and relationships.

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Working at the Saloon is a bit of a blessing and a curse. One being that it gives the production a central, downtown location with high visibility in the LGBT community. However, it doesn't quite have all of the usual amenities of a theater, and as the show started, I realized the performers were going to have to contend with the dull thump of the music from the main bar area.

Neither of them seemed to have any trouble with that, slipping easily into the first skit, where a pair of angels discuss how to best deal with human relationships, deciding that the gift of childbirth needs to be tempered with a lot of pain.

Matters of spirit and faith and God do run throughout the piece, from satirizing the innocent beliefs that young children have about nuns and the afterlife to an extended confessional where decades of "sin," from the trivial to major, are unleashed for an unseen (and one suspects, long suffering) priest.

Still, the best moments come when the writers focus on the mundane, which in turn allows the two actors to move into some intriguing characters, such as a man and a woman who play out a familiar bit of innocent flirting that seems to have been going on for years. The bittersweet nature is well played by both Dafydd and Preble.

As you would expect for a show that is two decades old, some of the moments are a bit dated and too much on the nose. Of course other parts, like gay marriage, are just as controversial today as when the show was written.

So, it's a pretty entertaining and even insightful show that kept most of the opening night's house's attention, except for a couple of gents who managed to distract just about everyone with their constant chatter throughout the show. Really, if you want to talk, the theater isn't the best option, even if the theater is in the back of a bar.

IF YOU GO:

Parallel Lives

$15

7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Through August 27