Against the Wall Forces Change

From l, Katie Adler, Nick McDow, and Lukas Bailey in “Against the Wall.”

From l, Katie Adler, Nick McDow, and Lukas Bailey in “Against the Wall.”

Blending romance and stand-up comedy, Against the Wall thoughtfully yet hilariously examines how it often takes moments of great desperation to face difficult emotional truths. Featuring excellent acting and some laugh-out-loud one-liners, the show steps behind the curtain to present the difficult realities of not only the shaping of a career, but the shaping of a life.

Struggling young comic Jeff Zelinski (Nick McDow) lives for his 22 minutes onstage, but his growing hostility sabotages his career. His friend Alex (Lukas Bailey) hopes to calm him down with a little romance, introducing him to brittle Susan Sullivan (Katie Adler), who is dealing with her own emotional issues. Can the hypersensitive performance artist and hurting comic break down their walls to find emotional connection and love?

Writer/Director Charlie Mount employs his own stand-up background to pen some funny yet caustic zingers for his actors, who hit the punch lines spot-on with great energy and rhythm. Their fine timing keeps the laughs rolling, though the jokes sometimes feature adult language. Mount also gets to the emotional heart of what it means to be vulnerable and connected.

The three actors give strong performances, led by the outstanding McDow. His expressive face, puppy dog eyes, and strong presence truly bring the sensitive comic alive. Adler brings touching vulnerability to the strident, polemical Susan. Bailey’s easygoing Alex helps lighten proceedings.

Fine production work enhances the experience, particularly Mount’s sound design and Yancey Dunham’s lighting.

Against the Wall reveals emotional truths through the guise of stand-up comedy.

Against the Wall plays Thursdays through Sundays June 5-8 and June 19-22, 2014 at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles. Tickets cost $30, $34 premium seating (first four rows), $25 seniors (65+), $5 students (under 25 with ID), and $22 for groups of 12 or more. Visit www.theatrewest.org, or call (323) 851-7977 to buy tickets and make reservations.

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