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Babylon Gardens

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BABYLON GARDENS, Profiles Theatre. There are a million stories in the naked city, and Timothy Mason tries to cram just about all of them into his awkwardly structured two-act play. There's something bracing about how much he tries to cover in this story of a drug- and alcohol-abusing male nurse whose life is careening out of control, but Mason never reveals any order amid the chaos. Instead, piling detail upon detail, he tells us that Bill is in trouble at work, that his wife is hallucinating and agoraphobic, that his friends are all but oblivious to the couple's pain, and that Bill is strangely attached to a homeless woman named Opal.

It doesn't help that Joe Jahraus's staging is unfocused and flat. Even scenes with direction and momentum--as when Bill's wife is nearly raped by a predatory young man she's picked up--lack suspense and drama. Moreover, Darrell W. Cox and Kerry Cox just don't have the emotional range to play the dysfunctional couple; Kerry Cox is particularly unconvincing as the wife--she never seems intense or distracted enough to be neurotic, then after her psychotic break she's too crazy. There are some fine actors in supporting roles, notably Stacy Parker as an empathetic but spacey friend and Mike Spitz as Bill's concerned work buddy. But when leading actors need as much work as the script, there isn't much the secondary characters can do.

--Jack Helbig

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