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It’s shaping up to be a LaBute-iful Summer

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What is a theatrical season, say I, without a little human misery.

OK, not quite fair. Not having seen or read either of the two plays subject to examination, I can not say with any degree of accuracy that either one will deal in human misery. On the other hand, since the author of both plays is Mr. Neil LaBute and since the first of his two L.A. premiers set to arrive this summer is titled “In a Dark Dark House,” perhaps the irresponsibility quotient is not through the roof.

Although his works (film and plays) can be unmercifully grim, Mr. LaBute can count me among his fans. I have that in common with Randall Arney and the Geffen Playhouse where many of LaBute’s plays have received their L.A. or regional premieres: “Fat Pig,” “Some Girl(s)” and “Break of Noon” among them.

The Geffen will get the L.A. premiere of “reasons to be pretty,” LaBute’s only play (inexplicably) to make to Broadway and for which he was Tony-nominated. “Reasons” investigates the effects upon a friendship among four young working class friends when one character makes an offhanded remark about his girlfriend. Along with "The Shape of Things" and "Fat Pig," "...Pretty" completes a trilogy in which the playwright is investigating physical appearance. The play also has a sequel: “Reasons to be Happy” which catches up with the same characters several years later. “…Happy” is probably a ways away from making it to our shores.

Arney, the Geffen’s Artistic Director, will direct “…pretty” which has not been cast and which will run July 29 to Aug. 31 in the Gil Cates Theatre at the Geffen, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. (310) 208-5454, www.geffenplayhouse.com.

Also arriving in late July at the Matrix Theatre is the L.A. Premiere of “in a Dark Dark House,” a three character play about a pair of estranged brothers who are trying to suss out the truth regarding something from their shared past. Adapted from LaBute's own short story “Swallowing Bicycles,” “In a Dark Dark House" features Aaron McPherson, Shaun Sipos and Annie Chernecky. The production is directed by renowned L.A. acting coach and director Larry Moss who in the press release, confirms the darkness, also insists the play “contains an amazing amount of hope and humor.” LaBute has called this among his most personal plays.

“Ina Dark Dark House" begins previews July 23 and runs through Aug. 31 at 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 960-7612, www.darkhousela.com.

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