Los Angeles Theater Review: DALLAS NON-STOP (Playwrights’ Arena at Atwater Village Theater)

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by Tony Frankel on December 6, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

WOULD YOU LIKE COFFEE, TEA OR THE AMERICAN DREAM?

Sometimes we take a short vacation just to get away from it all. A few days. No big tourist attractions or monumental natural sites are necessary. Just a pleasant little excursion with the benefits of some local color, even in a far-off land, where you can gaze at the appealing trinkets, whether or not you buy anything. The same can be Anne Yatco, Nardeep Khurmi, Kennedy Kabasares, Sandy Yu and Angel Star Felix in 'Dallas Non-Stop,' a Playwrights' Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre.said of theater. The world premiere of Boni B. Alvarez’ Dallas Non-Stop, a pleasant comedy with dark overtones, is a melodramatic examination of an impressionable and naïve young Philippina newly employed at a Cleveland-based airline call center. Her desire for an American visa coupled with her skewed vision of American life (courtesy of watching TV’s Dallas) creates drama in her Manila workplace. If a theatrical outing means a perfectly constructed Miller drama, you bought a ticket to the wrong locale. But if you are up for a show with a wonderful cast delivering an up-to-date, uplifting and surprisingly touching look into Filipino culture, Dallas Non-Stop will prove to be a charming departure.

The ambitious Girlie (Sandy Yu) is being trained as a reservationist by Sandeep (Nardeep Khurmi), who knows plenty about call centers from his Delhi home. They fall for each other and begin to date, much to the gossipy delight of her indigenous workmates, her spoiled friend Charlie (Anne Yatco) and the muliebral, tetchy Kennedy Kabasares and Anne Yatco in 'Dallas Non-Stop,' a Playwrights' Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre.Rodrigo (Kennedy Kabasares). The third co-worker, Chichay (Angel Star Felix), is a matronly peacemaker who prefers to stay in the background (Felix’ monologue about the traditional eating of duck eggs is superb storytelling).

Things are running smoothly until the arrival of American executive Brad (Jim Kane), who knows no bounds in the sexual harassment department and sets his sights on Girlie. Dismissals and assignations ensue and Girlie’s desire of the American Dream leads to soul-selling repercussions, interrupted by imagined scenarios that mimic a nighttime soap opera.

Christopher Scott Murillo’s bifurcated set is flanked by Adam Flemming’s projections that enhance a plethora of scenes, from a cloudy sky to a hotel poolside. Howard Ho’s sound of feet splashing into water is most effective (though his soundtrack accompanying the Dallas-imitation segments are far too loud). Some of the dialects are a bit thick, but under Jon Lawrence Rivera’s astute and fluid direction, the Jim Kane and Sandy Yu in 'Dallas Non-Stop,' a Playwrights' Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre.unadorned performances are beautiful in their simplicity, with Felix and Khurmi being the naturalistic standouts. Yu brings just the right amount of pathos to her role as Girlie, perfectly embodying the conflict between dream and reality.

Kane does his best with the one role that needs fleshing out; Brad’s flip-flopping tone and behavior seems improbable and lacks character motivation—he earns neither our empathy nor our hatred. But perhaps that’s Alvarez’ point: The American in the play already lives by a code of hypocritical ethics in accordance with what it takes to be successful in the land of the free.

This funny and wise play is now boarding at Atwater Village Theater, and you don’t have to deal with a call center for tickets.

Sandy Yu in 'Dallas Non-Stop,' a Playwrights' Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre.photos courtesy of Playwrights’ Arena

Dallas Non-Stop
Playwrights’ Arena
Atwater Village Theater, 3269 Casitas Ave.
scheduled to end on December 9, 2013
for tickets, call (800) 838-3006
or visit http://dallas.brownpapertickets.com
for more info, visit www.playwrightsarena.org

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