A bitter, one-note diatribe — The Mercy Seat at [Inside] the Ford Theatre

A bitter, one-note diatribe — The Mercy Seat at [Inside] the Ford Theatre


Now playing at [Inside] the Ford Theatre, is the Los Angeles premiere of The Mercy Seat, Neil LaBute“™s examination of opportunism in the wake of tragedy.

Review by Pauline Adamek

Not one of his strongest plays, LaBute takes about forty minutes to reveal his intriguing premise; “˜What if you were suddenly faced with the now-or-never chance to leave your spouse for your lover, no messy strings attached? Would you take it?”™

Michelle Clunie and Johnny Clark co-star as Abby and Ben, a pair of lovers dealing with the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attack on Manhattan Island. Their individual responses differ; he”™s shell-shocked, she”™s hostile. Their conversation for the duration of the play is fairly one-note, full of sarcasm and bitterness though occasionally playful and sexy, and eventually it emerges that Abby is pissed off with him about his inability to act. “That”™s what I like about you, Ben – your rigid commitment to being a flake.”

It turns out Ben was supposed to be in one of the Twin Towers when it was hit. Just before that, he had promised Abby he was going to leave his wife and kids for her, his boss and older lover. But after the attack, he”™s paralyzed by the enormity of the situation, which has provoked in him a crisis of conscience.


Halfway through this diatribe, well-directed by Ron Klier, it occurred to me that we could be heading to a murderous bloody finale, but the arguments aren”™t heated enough to support that outcome. In fact, the finale is a satisfying and plausible one. But watching these two unlikeable characters squabbling begs the question why is this pair still together?

The luxe set of an upscale loft in lower Manhattan is gorgeously realized by set designer Danny Cistone and art director Mercedes Manning.

The Mercy Seat

Vs. Theatre Company

[Inside] the Ford Theatre

in the Ford Theatres complex

2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East,

Hollywood, CA 90068

just off the 101 Hollywood Freeway across from the Hollywood Bowl and south of Universal Studios.

On-site, non-stacked parking is free.  (yay!)


Runs until April 24, 2011

Wednesdays at 8 pm: March 23, 30; April 6, 13, 20

Thursdays at 8 pm: March 24, 31; April 7, 14, 21

Fridays at 8 pm: March 25; April 1, 8, 15, 22

Saturdays at 8 pm: March 19 (Open), 26; April 2, 9, 16, 23

Sundays at 2 pm: March 20, 27; April 3, 10, 17, 24

Running time:

Approx 100 minutes, no intermission


General admission is $20.00

Seniors and full-time students with ID are $12.00

Box Office:

Purchase tickets here or call (323) 461-3673

The 2010-11 Season at [Inside] the Ford is supported by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Ford Theatre Foundation, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.


  • How can it be considered well directed if the director allowed his actors to play just one note? Had they played the relationship/love earlier, the play would have had more depth and been far more interesting. And really, how can one actor sit for so long during a play?

  • ~

    ^ You make a valid point about the direction. I think I was trying to be fair to the production but tough on the play.


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