Flag Day

From l, Thomas Isao Morinaka, Diane Sellers, and Kres Mersky in “Flag Day.”

From l, Thomas Isao Morinaka, Diane Sellers, and Kres Mersky in “Flag Day.”

Some folks are locked into ceremonies and rituals whose meanings have long been forgotten. They hold tight to these ceremonies, as they give substance to an otherwise drab and uneventful existence. Ignoring a holiday to avoid a painful memory is one thing, but changing the holiday entirely to the detriment of others is a cry for help. The characters of Flag Day need some kind of therapy but are too bound to their own traditions to realize it.

Set in trendy Los Angeles suburbia in the summer of 1992, the show opens with Jeffrey (Andrew Parks) and Madeline (Saratoga Ballantine) awkwardly discussing a liaison at his office. This awkwardness is compounded by the fact that she is married and he is the family physician. Complicating the issue further, he is also invited to their faux Christmas celebration, for reasons I will not divulge. It is clear from the beginning that all is not what it seems.

The characters are kooky, but not bent. They are friendly, kind, and none harbor any dark secrets. Other than a little infidelity, they are harmless. Act One introduces us to them, and explains why they decorate the house and exchange gifts in the middle of June.

Act Two gets the ball rolling and allows the characters to reveal their true intentions. Margaret (Kres Mersky) is haunted by an event and instead of letting it go, she diverts it to the absurd. All those in her orbit are affected, and yet do not have the courage to appeal to what is best.

Director Paul Gersten keeps a measured approach with the pacing and blocking. Caitlin Gallogly as Suzanne and Andrew Parks as Jeffrey excel. The script by Kres Mersky could use some fundamental punch by offering more compelling conflict. This is a comedy, and yes, there are quite a few laughs. Recommended.

Flag Day runs through June 22 at Theatre West, located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90068. 323-851-7977 www.theatrewest.org


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