The Elephant Theatre Company
Artistic director Dave Fofi, from the renowned The Elephant Theatre Company, once again brings sophisticated humor and brilliance to their annual Valentine’s Day special performance dedicated to those who didn’t receive that See’s candy box of chocolates, 100 roses or even a damn, “Happy Friggin’ Valentine’s Day.” Eight vignettes are crafted with their own spin on love and what it truly means. Sometimes love bites and other times it can be an aching, none stop bitch.
“Rox-N Miss Thang” written by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich and directed by Julie Weidmann, starred Robert John Brewwe as Charlie and Cheryl Huggins as Roxanne, his newly born hip-hop wife. This cute, petite vanilla latte-looking girl swaggers in with an old school boom box claiming how hip-hop “is saving me.” Charlie, a diner owner in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has no clue what the hell she’s talking about. All he knows is that she left her cushy job as a CPA while Charlie works double shifts.
As he begins to chop vegetables incessantly, he becomes nervous when the newly-christened Rox-N blasts rapper Missy Elliott and singer Ciara 2005 hip-hop single “Lose Control.” Both Huggins and the audience enjoyed listening to the bombastic music blaring throughout the theater. On the flip side, let’s face it, payback is a bitch. Especially when the girlyou liked back in high school ignored your ass and you were a scrawny kid with an acne pocked face. That’s what happened when the waitress Shannon (Maya Parish) and her nemesis Adam (Charles Pacello) in “Most Likely” directed by Lew Abramson and written by Gloria Calderon Kellett. Adam is the typical Bluetooth carrying, Brooks Brother suit wearing big shot barking orders at Shannon, a single mother, who fires back with some rapid remarks of her own, stands her ground with the arrogant but likable Adam. His good looks and charm win her over which of course she ignores at first but eventually relinquishes her annoyance towards him. What starts out as adversaries, ends ups being civil and touching.
“Hard” doesn’t even begin to describe this storyline. Written by Steven Korbar and directed by Benjamin Caron. Corby Griesenbeck plays fading porn star Grip. A total 70s porn star with cutoff jeans, faded cowboy boots open vest with flyaway hair; he’s expecting an experienced fluffer. Instead he gets Barbara Ann (Kate Huffman), a Midwestern secretary. “I’m gay for pay,” he out rightly tells hers. She’s very chatty. She doesn’t want to comply since all she sees in front of her is a petri dish of sexual diseases. What starts out as a business exchange turns into a more soul searching event. The two realize they have more in common. Reluctantly, Grip tells the business wearing Barbara Ann that she has a job to do. He suggests sex talk to get it started; but that doesn’t work. Barbara Ann may have that Midwestern nice girl look but she threw back some catchy zingers.
The show continues with more fresh ideas, original material and the best of the best of actors executing the stories. They did it with “7 Redneck Cheerleaders” written by Louis Jacobs, “Los Muertos” by Timothy McNeil and former “Love Bites” productions. Under Fofi’s helm, the dysfunctional comedies are hilarious from beginning to end. The audience will be divided into two categories: the shorts will bring back some awful or fond memories or give a long and painful look on how a date could have ended. The latter brings shudders. Somewhere, there will be some incidents where someone can relate to. If Shakespeare had a kinky mind, and since it’s assumed that all writers do, he would’ve given each writer an autographed quill pen and a slap on the back to each director for having the guts and fortitude to present such risqué and great performances.
The Elephant Company is known for producing such outstanding material. They take chances and so far have surpassed expectations. It will be interesting to see what’s on their schedule for this year. Whatever it is, it will definitely be worth watching and take a second look.
Love Bites – Volume 9 runs Fridays and Saturday at 8 p.m. ends Sunday March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Elephant Theatre Company located at 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood Blvd. Tickets available online at www.plays411.com/lovebites or by phone 323-960-4410.