VLT offers a mild comedy-drama from Jeff Daniels with Apartment 3A.
By Kay Kipling
Venice Little Theatre’s Stage II has made something of a habit of presenting works by actor/playwright Jeff Daniels, and plans to continue doing so in future seasons. This season’s Daniels offering, Apartment 3A, is not the best of the playwright’s works, judging from VLT’s production, but it has a few nice moments.
The action takes place on an almost bare stage that represents not only the apartment of the title but other locations as well, including the public television studio where the show’s female lead, Annie (Sara Trembly) works as a fund raiser. Annie’s at a difficult point in her life, having just had a traumatic breakup with yet another boyfriend while facing increased pressure to keep the station’s lights on. The new apartment comes with a friendly, aging-hippie-looking landlady (Lynne Buhle) and a neighbor, Donald (William Czarniak), who just can’t wait to get to know Annie better, even though he says he’s happily married to his out-of-town wife.
The other main character in the setup is Elliott (Jeremy Stone), a co-worker of Annie’s who bent on a more intimate relationship with her now that she’s free of other romantic entanglements. Or is she? Just how close will she and her new neighbor get? And will Annie’s meltdown on air during a pledge drive threaten her job?
It’s a fairly slight premise, but Daniels adds weight to it with a significant lunchtime conversation between Elliott and Annie that involves the afterlife and whether or not God exists—a discussion that continues later with Donald. He also adds humor to the mix, especially with a scene of sexual antics between Elliott and Annie that seems to only confuse Annie further about where her heart lies.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where Apartment 3A is heading, but the romantic at heart may still appreciate the play’s ending. And the cast, if not ideally chosen according to age and physical compatability, works smoothly enough together. The show runs through Feb. 3; for tickets call 488-1115 or go to venicestage.com.