by Cynthia Citron
If there is such a thing as a “mild-mannered play,” Alena Smith’s “Icebergs” would certainly qualify. It appears that its five self-absorbed characters have no serious problems or conflicts.
Unless, of course, you consider the speech delivered at 100 words a minute by Abigail (Jennifer Mudge) about global warming and the imminent destruction of the planet. A minor actress, Abigail feels old at 35. And she doesn’t want to have a baby. (Or perhaps she doesn’t want to bring a baby into a world that is falling apart.)
Her husband Calder (Nate Corddry) is a moderately successful filmmaker who has just written a screenplay that he hopes will propel him into the ranks of those who make blockbusters like “Jurassic Park.” And he does want a baby.
These two live in the posh Silver Lake district of Los Angeles in a home gorgeously designed by Anthony T. Fanning. Bright and comfortable, with latticed French doors opening onto a patio and a wall of bougainvillea visible from another window, it’s a setting that you wouldn’t mind living in yourself.
Reed (Keith Powell) is their first visitor of the evening. A paleontologist from a university in Missouri, he is in town to deliver a scientific paper at UCLA. (“The universe might be a hologram,” he suggests facetiously.) Calder’s roommate in college, Reed is warmly welcomed to spend the night. Intelligent and funny, he provides much of the comic relief, even though he claims that this visit is only meant to be a brief respite from his pregnant wife and small demanding daughter.
The next visitor is Molly (Rebecca Henderson), Abigail’s best friend since childhood. A lesbian who has been married for two weeks, she comes in raving that she wants a divorce. Her partner, it seems, wants to have a baby for the two of them, but Molly is resentful. She wants to bear the baby herself.
And finally, in comes Nicky (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe), Calder’s agent, bearing a jeroboam of champagne and some good news. He has found someone interested in producing Calder’s movie—-with two provisos. Calder’s script is based on the true story of a married couple on a trek across the Arctic to reach the North Pole. It’s a bleak and harrowing tale and Calder wrote it with Abigail in mind for the lead. But the producer wants a major star for the lead.
The other proviso is that Calder alter the script to provide a happy ending.
So, while the other four continue to complain about the relatively minor problems in their lives, it appears that Calder really does have a problem in his.
“Icebergs”, directed by the Geffen Playhouse’s Artistic Director Randall Arney, was a terrific success on opening night, with the audience erupting in continual laughter and providing a standing ovation at the end. But even though the action was fast-paced and the actors handled their parts well (especially Keith Powell), I felt that the play didn’t actually GO anywhere or solve very much, and I had a hard time empathizing with the characters or their “problems.” Except, of course, the problem of global warming.
This world premiere is being presented at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm through December 18th. For tickets, call (310) 208-5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org.