"Icarus," Edwin Sanchez's allegorical musing on the dynamic between love and beauty, is the story of a handsome boy who falls in love with a disfigured girl. The lyrical language and improbable subplot -- her efforts to convince her disabled brother that he can swim "far enough to reach the sun" -- suggest a surrealistic tone that this production by Trumpet Vine Theatre Company never achieves.
As the play opens, a trio of drifters arrives to squat in an unoccupied Southern California beach house. Altagracia (Jennifer Berg) and her brother Primitivo (Christopher Galindo) travel with a mysterious figure named Mr. Ellis (Keith Waters), who mutters to himself and carries about a suitcase "full of dreams." In the house across the way lives "the Gloria," a fading starlet still waiting for the phone call that will save her career. The catalyst of change for each of them is Beau, a boy who keeps his face concealed. Altagracia hopes that he does so because he, too, is ugly.
Clearly, this play lives in the world of fable, with its feet on the earth and its heart in the sky. As directed by Vincent Worthington, however, "Icarus" is as literal as its beach set, which kicks up real dust (to the detriment of the allergy-prone). Sanchez's poetic fancy is ill-served; in a story riddled with gravity-defying changes of heart, Worthington's actors seldom create a convincing moment.
Actress Jack Baker, as the Gloria, is most successful at navigating Sanchez's swings from absurdity to poignancy, and the telegenic John Driscoll is aptly cast -- if overwhelmed -- as Beau. Driscoll may be familiar to some from a recurring role on the WB network's teen soap opera "Dawson's Creek." Clearly Driscoll's television experience has not prepared him for a stage role that requires him to act with his face hidden. Ironically, it is only when the mask comes off that Driscoll comes to life in the part.
Icarus, by Edwin Sanchez. Set by Vincent Worthington; lights, Kenneth Crowley; costumes, Allen Smith; sound, David Meyer; makeup design, Adrian Ballard. Two hours 15 minutes with one 10-minute intermission. Produced by Trumpet Vine Theatre Company at Theatre on the Run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr., through Dec. 22. Call 703-912-1649.