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Too much of ‘Adventures in Mating’ sounds familiar

Poor Richard’s Players’ "Adventures in Mating," now at theatre7, is an adequate comedy for those interested in a harmless laugh that won’t be remembered a moment after the show’s over.

I was on my guard immediately when I was welcomed at the door by actor Lysander Abadia with, "I’ll be your waiter tonight." He repeated that line for everyone who came in . Soon, Abadia bounced onto the small stage and warned us that this would be an audience-participation show. To illustrate his point, he had us wave our arms to the right, to the left, then straight up. Call me jaded, but this did not make me look forward to what lay ahead.

Actress Breon Jenay then sat at a restaurant table, her character apparently waiting for a blind date. Jenay is maybe two-thirds of the way into learning how to be a human being onstage. Whenever she sighs, sits, smiles or searches her pocketbook, she comes across like someone desperately trying to telegraph her thoughts to an audience.

The production takes off when Maxim Lardent, as the other half of the blind date, gets caught up in Jenay’s insane procedure for screening matrimony possibilities. Lardent is a perfect breed of actor for exaggerated comedy. He knows how to milk a laugh but is also able to get us to believe in him as a character. Even if this show weren’t a comedy, we’d be caught up in Lardent’s hapless attempts to woo this "unwooable" stranger.

Abadia is a naturally perky performer, and when, as the waiter, he tries to play extreme perky, he’s nauseous. His work here is a monotonous series of frozen smiles followed by high-pitched squealings.

Joseph Scrimshaw’s script — which has a dinner bell ring whenever the waiter is going to stop the action and ask the audience what should happen next — is too close in plot and tone to David Ives’ "Sure Thing." This date occasionally produces a few good lines, but too many sound familiar.

Lardent, though, makes it worth sitting through. He’s the truth of the production; proof that a nonsensical character can be made real if an actor believes enough.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat @aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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