Chelsea Sutton’s play “99 Impossible Things” should really be called “100 Impossible Things.” The hundredth being the play itself. Filled with faux fey characters, almost all of whom are nuts in one way or another, the play presumably aims to add a little amusing fantasy to your otherwise drab life. But what it provides is a boring production: flat, staccato acting and dopey dialogue.
Harold (Jason Britt) is nutcase No. 1. His obsession is to catalog 99 impossible inventions, like a time machine that, instead of whisking you off to the future or the past, gives you more time in the present to enjoy a beautiful or unique moment. He is also being stalked by a sea monkey (Jillian Easton) that nobody else can see.
Casey (Mason Hallberg) has an imaginary friend, Paul (Geoff James), who he hopes, if he concentrates hard enough, he can turn into a real person.
Ellen (Tiffany Cole), who runs the Magic Bean Coffee Shop where all this takes place, is being hounded by a guardian angel with paper wings (RJ Farrington) who is trying to bully her out of her depression.
There is also a dirty-faced, homeless, would-be magician, Alice (Barbara Scolaro), and a newcomer to the neighborhood, Jaye (Jessica Lightfoot), who may or may not be a famous movie star.
The only ostensibly sane character is Lydia (Ashleigh Boiros), who also happens to be the only consistently good actor in the bunch. She is Harold’s sister and Ellen’s assistant in the coffee shop, as well as the invisible and imaginary Paul’s potential love.
As for the dialogue: the most often-repeated line is, “Who are you talking to?” as everyone converses with their invisible companions. And then there’s Harold’s inexplicable line, “The most important things in our life have no name.” (Can you give a name to a bad play?)
The Magic Bean Coffee Shop, designed by Bryan Forrest, at least provides a few interesting things to look at. The famous poster of Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out. A glossy photo of Claudette Colbert. And innumerable tiny tchotchkes lining the shelves. And Virginia VandenBerg has done a good job with the costumes — especially the one worn by the homeless Alice.
Chelsea Sutton who wrote and directed this “world premiere,” has directed such outstanding plays as “Twelve Angry Men,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and recently, “The Traveling Carnival Freakshow,” which she also co-wrote. Her plays have also been produced by The Looking Glass Theatre in New York, the UCSB New Plays Festival, and The Eclectic Company Theatre, which produced this one.
As Sutton admits in the playbill, this production started off as “a terrible little one-act” about the characters Casey and Paul, which she expanded in one month to a full play for her senior project at UCSB. She’s been fiddling with it ever since, she says. And all I can say is, “keep fiddling. It ain’t no symphony yet.”
“99 Impossible Things” will continue at The Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., in Valley Village, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through Feb. 13. Call (818) 508-3003 for tickets.
Cynthia Citron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.