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Compromised by Fits and Starts

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But Horovitz's play reaches neither the dramatic heights nor the philosophical depths of these other works. While much of the blame should be laid at the playwright's feet, the folks at the Firehouse don't do him many favors with this production either. Jim Hillgartner plays medical researcher Aaron Keyes. He has a daughter Rebecca (Jen Meharg), whom he rarely sees, and a housekeeper, Alice (Diana Carver), who is more a friend for hire than a maid. His assistant Thomas (d.l. Hopkins) is Alice's son and possibly Rebecca's lover. Aaron is on the threshold of a career-defining breakthrough when his life suddenly seems to spin out of control: His estranged alcoholic wife lands in the hospital, and Thomas unloads a backlog of resentment on him in a wide-ranging tirade.

While the pieces of something intriguing are here, the drama erupts only in fits and starts; no two scenes flow together smoothly, and most of the big moments fall flat. Part of the problem lies in the show's technology: Aaron makes regular video diary entries that provide clunky chunks of exposition, and all communication with Rebecca is through instant messages projected on a screen above the stage. Hillgartner's performance is disorganized and uneven, while Hopkins (possibly hampered by a cold) never really inhabits his character. Meharg's performance might be the best of the four, but it's also partially obscured by a screen throughout the play. Carver has a few nice moments near the end, but she can't rescue a production as compromised as this one. S

"Compromise" plays at Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. through March 25. Tickets are $10-$20. Call 355-2001.

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