Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
ASTA's new Second Stage is a lovely little theater. But its inaugural production, "Crazy Salad," needs more tossing.
Despite the presence of three women with equally strong roles. "Crazy Salad" is yet another on person show. The subtitle says it: "An Evening of Nora Ephron." The actresses take turns reciting excerpts from Ephron's books and magazine essays.
Ephron is an entertaining and perceptive essayist, but she doesn't claim to be a playwright. ASTA artistic director Dona Cooper did all the adapting and directing here, and her theatricalization of Ephron has not been extensive enough to provide any compelling reason why her work should be watched instead of read.
The excerpts have not been assembled into any shape with a theatrical life of its own, and most of the evening consists of solo turns rather than interaction among the players.
Occasionally interaction is attempted without much success. The funniest material of the evening - "A Few Words About Breasts" - is basically a comic monologue, but it's distractingly passed around like a ball from actress to actress. Two anecdotes, "The Diary of a Beach Wife" and "Make Over," are presented in tandem - a confusing procedure without much dramatic point.
The most theatrical imagination has been invested on the weakest material - ponderously chichi segments called "The Food Establishment" and "The Revitalization of Clay Filter." It becomes apparent that actresses Barbara klein, Sarah Toth Yochum and P. Gail Duncan are gifted interpreters of Ephron. But generally it's not clear why Ephron needs interpreters.
The stage has been set quite attractively by Russell Metheny, Ward Veazey and Ingrid Crepeau.
The room is liable to become a valuable addition to Washington's small theater scene. Seating 70 on three sides of its stage, it's as intimate as ASTA's previous quarters and more intimater than ASTA's current larger theater. But there's enough breathing space that one does not feel driven to check out the fire exit every few minutes.