Jennie Webb’s hilarious new play Currency, is a sly commentary on modern relationships — both the intimate kind and familial ones. It begins in the abundantly chintzy yet palatial bedroom of Helen (Dale Waddington) – scenic design is by Krystyna Loboda. It’s the morning after her boyfriend Dan (Warren Davis) has spent the night and, judging by their awkward but friendly banter, it’s the first time he has done so. Helen and Dan’s conversation nervously tumbles over one another as they get to know each other’s morning-time habits. They’re both effusively apologetic about their own various quirks — she doesn’t have any milk for coffee on hand; he doesn’t eat breakfast before he’s taken his pills, and he’s sorry he didn’t think to bring them; she’s sorry she didn’t suggest he bring them on their date the night before — that sort of thing. But amongst the profuse apologies there is also lots of cutesy and flirty chatter as well, indicating that the pair is giddily pleased with this new development in their relationship. Waddington, especially, conveys Helen’s afterglow with charm.
It’s only five minutes into the play when Dan gets a startling phone call conveying some tragic and life-altering news. Almost immediately, Dan’s overbearing sister Rae (Gina Torrecilla) unexpectedly barges into Helen’s bedroom, along with a few other uninvited guests. What follows verges on farce as Dan and Helen try to grapple with the news and the subsequent fallout.
Webb handles the arrival of one character with a deft touch of mystery and, even when the play veers into a zone that verges on the ridiculous, it’s to her credit that it never quite tips over into the implausible.
As Helen, Dale Waddington brings a sweet and earthy sensuality to her role. Davis is great as the often flummoxed and slightly goofy but mostly endearing Dan. Brash, intrusive and ‘all business,’ Gina Torrecilla pitches her interpretation of the excessively grating personality of sister Rae just right, while Shirley Jordan is good as Helen’s frazzled best friend and co-worker. But it’s Josh Stamell as Dan and Rae’s younger brother Sparky who really steals the show with his fully-rounded interpretation of what is sometimes a bit of a one-note and highly eccentric character. Sparky is a young guy with big dreams who lives in his own world — someone who is adept at getting to the metaphysical heart of an issue; a kind of über-cheerful, motivational speaker-type. Stamell brings effervescence and plenty of nuance to this highly entertaining role. The casting from director Annie McVey is solid and she also displays a flair for guiding her cast through this fast-paced, rapid-fire script.
Webb’s comedy zips along at a fast pace while her dependable authorial voice purrs throughout like a sweetly-tuned engine.
The Inkwell Theater presents
Currency by Jennie Webb – World Premiere
A guest production at VS. Theatre.
5453 W Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Runs through Saturday, May 21, 2016
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 2 pm
• A limited number of half-price tickets are also available for each performance through Inkwell’s website on a first-come, first-served basis.
Running time is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, no intermission.