Comedy

‘4PLAY’ Opens Valentine’s Day at The Actors Company

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“4PLAY Sex in a Series,” already a hit in New York and Chicago, arrives in Los Angeles just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Described as the “not-so-simple story of boy meets girl, boy meets boy, girl meets girl—and all the little things that can ruin a perfectly good dinner party,” the piece is a product of the trip. theater company that has roots in Dallas, but blossomed in New York and Chicago.

While Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily come up in “4PLAY,” “it is very much a great date play, says director-cowriter Graham Brown, “because it’s about these three couples meeting each other, falling in love–it’s a little naughty, and it’s a great play for Valentine’s Day.”

That celebration of love and romance, flowers and chocolates, has proven a popular backdrop for the piece in the past, especially in Chicago, where it also opened on Valentine’s Day.

Dustyn Gulledge and Cameron J. Oro in "4PLAY."

Dustyn Gulledge and Cameron J. Oro in “4PLAY.”

“It was so well received, says Brown, “that we pretty much paid for our production opening weekend.”

The company is banking on the tug of heart strings again, offering a Lover’s Package for the first week of the run, which includes two tickets, champagne, chocolates and “a little naughty, surprise gift.”

“It’s really a fun thing to do for Valentine’s Day,” says Brown, who has tweaked the play for West Coast audiences—and to acknowledge the changing cultural climate.

The play revolves around three couples, with half a dozen other characters running in and out of those relationships.

“There’s a little sister who comes in and stays with the girls in New York,” says Brown. “There’s a character I don’t want to talk too much about, but who sort of—she’s an imaginary character, I’ll leave it at that, and that becomes almost the fourth relationship.”

Brown moved his own family to Los Angeles a year ago, and has since reconnected with numerous trip. company members who’ve also relocated to LA from New York and Chicago.

Trip. was founded in Dallas in 1995, and spent 16 years in New York, until simple economics required a move, Brown said.

“Back then, Off-Off Broadway offered a place where you could produce a show on a credit card.” But eventually that “disappeared,” says Brown, so the company moved to Chicago, “a great theater town.”

After four years there and another successful “4PLAY” run, the West Coast and broader acting opportunities beckoned. After securing an agent, Brown, who also does standup comedy, spent a little too much time “screaming at the television” over the unfolding political drama (which will lead to the company’s next topic, coming in September).

“My wife said you’ve gotta produce theater, you absolutely have to get out of the house and produce something.

“There were groups of people that I had worked with in New York, who understood our technique and had done shows with us before, and in Chicago, all these people were now living in LA,” Brown said. “So we got together and rebuilt the company, and here we are opening in Los Angeles.”

The “technique” involves a setting in which the audience walks into the space and is part of the scene, “as if you’re in the movie,” says Brown. The action happens around the audience, rather than in front of it, although the audience doesn’t participate.

Describing the storyline, Brown says, “We have these characters that are gay, bisexual and straight and such, and how they are treated through the course of the play is just like everybody else.

“One of the messages of the play is everybody is seeking for love. Everybody is looking for, when are we dating? When are we not dating? Who said I love you first, all these basics. So it becomes this feel-good piece for every orientation.”

“4PLAY Sex in a Series” opens on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, Feb. 14, and continues Thur-Saturdays through St. Patty’s Day at the Actors Company, 916 A N. Formosa Ave., Los Angeles. Click here more info and tickets.

 

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and is currently producing a documentary for her own company, Saving Grace Films.

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