According to the dictionary, the verb boomerang is an action or statement that has the opposite effect from the one intended. In other words, something that turns into a well-intentioned disaster.
Well, have no fear. Playwright Matthew Leavitt’s The Boomerang Effect is not a disaster, but a triumph. Hilarious, intelligent, and bordering on realism, the play follows five couples through the various loopholes and pitfalls of love.
The five couples, who turn out to be loosely interrelated, pursue their individual relationships in a bed that is the center of the action. In the first scene, Stephanie (Carly Chaikin) delivers a sexual birthday present to her partner, Paul (Luke McClure), as he turns 25. A man-child who works bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s, he responds to her nagging by protesting that if he had college to do over again, he would never have majored in creative writing.
In Pillow Talk, Renee (Tiffany Lonsdale) and Andrew (Malcolm Barrett) engage in a slapstick struggle as he tries to help her remove her boots, which seem to be cemented on. Finally, as they get ready to make love, she launches into a series of totally irrelevant small talk. Later we learn that this nonsensical chatter is meant to “slow him down” in his lovemaking.
Words with Friends focuses on a gay couple whose relationship has soured. Nick (Emerson Collins) is the one who works, while David (Jonathan Slavin) plays Scrabble on his iPad with his nemesis, Ian Chang. David has “dreams”: he’d like to be an actor or a pastry chef.
With no experience in either field, he justifies his desire to be a pastry chef with the explanation “I love cookies!” He moans that the two haven’t had sex in three weeks and declares with an accusatory whine, “We’re turning into a straight couple!”
In Des Moines a 60-something executive (Charles Howerton) traveling with his eager blonde assistant (Katherine Bailess) turns her into an indignant termagant by blatantly propositioning her, telling her that if she doesn’t sleep with him he will fire her. She threatens to sue him and he flattens her with a diatribe about the legal wrangle that suing would ensue.
And finally, in The Ignoble Fate of Timmy the Rabbit, a cheating husband (Joel Bryant) tries to talk his lady of the evening (Vanessa Celso) into not taking his drunken protestations seriously.
And then the couples each appear again, this time to resolve or explain their earlier behavior. Does love win out? You bet it does---most of the time---in spite of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and a plethora of witty dialogue that often exacerbates the situation.
If you saw The Boomerang Effect when it was presented at The Odyssey last year, you might want to laugh your way through it again. The cast is uniformly excellent and well directed by multi-award winner Damaso Rodriguez, the set by John Iacovelli is unassuming and well used, and the costuming by T. Ashanti Mozelle is appropriately low-key.
The Boomerang Effect may not be Chekhovian drama, but it is a helluva lot of fun. It will be presented Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, through July 27th. Call 800-595-4849 for tickets.