Strike-Slip (Theater spotlight)
Los Angeles can be a confounding city to write about. So many attempts have stepped into tar pits of plastic noir glamour, or they've been pot-meet-kettle depictions of L.A.'s so-called vapidity. Naomi Iizuka does better here, if not by quite enough, though her play receives a game but uneven staging by Nimbus. The action begins in a little market, where Korean grocer Lee Sung Cho (Michael LaFleur) and a brusque customer named Frank (Mitchell Frazier) have a miscommunication over the change from a pack of smokes that ends up with a gun brandished and threats of future reprisal. You might suppose this exchange will ground what comes next, but it doesn't, which is both good and bad. Iizuka avoids a clichéd story of racial disharmony in the Angeleno melting pot, but what follows at times feels so wispy that one is left searching for irony, or higher meaning, or something beyond the level of a classy soap opera. The scenes are all short, and there are a great many of them. Director Josh Cragun admirably keeps the cart in motion (it's impossible for there to be much of a standing set; Liz Neerland picks up the visual slack with occasionally gorgeous video projections) amid a spate of crossing currents and events that play out over more than a year. We have a couple buying an expensive Santa Monica house (their marriage is transparently doomed), a young couple in teenage love (their prospects are transparently slim), a real-estate agent (Viviana Ramos) questioning the meaning of it all, and our pal Frank, who seems to be a criminal, a cop, or some finely gradated blend of the two. By the end, the show has indulged in some very flat and mundane dialogue, scattershot emotional tones, and a fractured and incomplete dramatic arc. You'd think it was trying to depict life itself (with some tin-ear indulgences), all seemingly random but interconnected and damned resistant to our attempts at imposing narrative coherence. It's as imperfect as what waits outside the doors when it is finished. $10-$15. 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun.; Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 Franklin Ave. W., Minneapolis; 651.229.3122. Through March 28
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