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Tallahassee

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TALLAHASSEE, WNEP Theater Foundation, at the Playground. In this world premiere, California playwright Eric Eberwein uses a familiar tactic: he creates a slightly cartoonish world whose comic distortions show us a truer portrait of our foibles and flaws than a more realistic work would. The folks at Second City and playwrights like Maria Irene Fornes and David Ives do this all the time.

But they usually pick harder targets than Eberwein does. He levels his lance against chauvinistic males, sexual repression, and the idea of women as property; later he comes to the defense of women masturbating, of orgasm, and of men and women spending more open, loving, gentle time together.

Perhaps these ideas are controversial in some benighted American backwaters. But in most worlds they're more or less givens. That may explain why Eberwein chose to set his play at the turn of the century--they were so stupid about sex back then, don't you know--and why Seth Fisher's cast must work so hard to squeeze laughs out of Eberwein's sometimes witty, sometimes forced script. Michael Starcevich in particular struggles mightily to make his chauvinist patriarch stiff and foolish enough that we don't mind scapegoating him when his previously frigid wife, charmingly played by Ivory Tiffin, discovers the joys of an early vibrator.

--Jack Helbig

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