LIQUOR GUNS KARATE, by Morwyn Brebner, directed by Jackie Maxwell, with Ann Baggley, Tom Barnett, Victor Ertmanis and Waneta Storms. Presented by Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman). Runs to October 29, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2:30 pm. $23-$29, stu/srs discount, Sunday pwyc. 531-1827. Rating: NNN
Comedy is hard to write, but it's even harder to direct.
That's the lesson to be learned watching Liquor Guns Karate, Morwyn Brebner's darkly off-kilter new play. The Tarragon season opener needs a sharper director than Jackie Maxwell to bring consistency to every quirk and neurotic nuance.
Set during a freak ice storm in L.A., Brebner's play looks at fatherless daughters, failed dreams and 20-something apathy. Tough material, written with lots of spiky humour.
Working on the too-large-for-this-play Tarragon Main Space stage, Maxwell doesn't know what to do with the actors. They frequently peer out windows, dial or carry around phones and sit in chairs watching others deliver monologues.
A lot of the characters' energy is absorbed by Sue LePage's white set, which dominates and is too literal for a play that could be interpreted as surreal and dream-like.
Still, the actors try to live up to the script's potential. Waneta Storms bites hungrily, if unsubtly, into her sarcastic, self-destructive and apathetic Laurel, and she's well matched by the all-knowing cynicism of Victor Ertmanis, whose gruff absent father should develop even more complexity - especially in an extended scene near the end - as the run progresses.
Best, though, is Tom Barnett, who plays Laurel's struggling screenwriter boyfriend Chuck with the right note of hope and bewilderment. GS