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BWW Reviews: DIRTY Satisfyingly Delivers Its Money Shot

Dirty/by Andrew Hinderaker/directed by Shannon Cochran/The Zephyr Theatre/thru December 21, 2014

Slaughter House Theatre Company's West Coast premiere of Dirty wonderfully involves, intrigues, then incites indignation while always keeping its audience interested. Kennedy Center Playwright Award-winner Andrew Hinderaker certainly knows his way around words-some very clever, some downright mean, but all engaging. Obie Award-winner Shannon Cochran directs her talented cast in an exhilarating pace with the first act zipping by in one of the fastest, most enthralling one hour spent in LA theatre.

Dirty centers on Matt (a brilliant Max Lesser), a securities trader with a pregnant wife and a moral compass. Forced to choose between hooking a client in a morally ambivalent method and providing for his soon-to-be-born daughter, or being jobless; Matt chooses the latter. A very successful commodities trader, Matt's just having a slump... for the last few years. Using his once surefire sales pitch on his wife Katie (a luminous Anna Konkle), Matt convinces her to back him in an outrageous money-making venture- opening a porn studio. Katie does like watching porn with Matt. Konkle's very convincing as she gets mad at, seduces, rationalizes, supports, loves her husband. Konkle handles Katie's full range of emotions effortlessly.

What a showcase for Lesser. His Matt definitely belongs in the high-stress, high octane, fast-talking overachiever league but, he's also handicapped by a conscience. All this high energy, loud maneuvering makes it refreshingly sweet when Matt has his quieter moments with Katie (serenading their unborn daughter with a Jimi Hendrix song). Lesser manages Matt's emotional volatility most handily.

Lea Coco gives full-dimensions to his role of Terry, Max' driven a-hole of a boss. How unexpected to see Coco's Type A, always-in-control Terry burst into a very unshark-like happy dance. Nice moment allowing his guard down.

Matt and Katie's porn venture moves forward with the unlikely help from Terry. Fate has it that Mikayla comes in to audition for the three and blows them away, well, two out of the three of them. The stunning Zuleyka Silver's perfectly cast in her role of Mikayla, the answer to the start-up porn studio's marketing strategy and could-be leading lady. "She's bi-racial, bi-lingual, and bi-sexual," raves Terry. Mikayla's teenage sister April (well essayed by the also stunning Sumiko Braun (they could be real-life sisters)) has the unfortunate habit of showing up at Mikayla's most inopportune times.

Rob Belushi revels in his brief portrayal of Jacob, the very young, very rich, very successful, very brash head of an established rival porn studio.

Production values top-rate as expected at the Zephyr with Katrina Coulourides' multi-use set delineating offices, living rooms and porn studios with the simple assist from lighting designer Paige Selene Luke's well-aimed light cues.

Only wish the second act better explained the circumstances leading up to the climatic game-changer, the possible porn studio take-over. But the straightforward conclusion leaves the riveted audience quite satisfied.

P.S. Love Coco's pre-show cell phone/exits announcement in his dismissive Terry character. Perfect preview of situations to come.

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From This Author Gil Kaan