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EVIDENCE ROOM PRESENTS
Justin Tanner's
HOT PROPERTY

Cast

Brett - Matt Huhn
Jamie - Darin Anthony
Dory - Alicia Adams
Gia - Beata Swiderska
Hal - Dean Biasucci
Joy - Jayne Taini
Chuck - Nick Offerman
Sissy - Laurel Green
Diana - Mara Casey


Director - Justin Tanner
Scenic Designer - Jason Adams & Andy Daley
Lighting Designer - Rand Ryan
Sound Design - John Zalewski
Prop Design - Connie Monaghan

Producers - Bart DeLorenzo & Kirk Wilson
Assistant Director - Amanda Curtin

Stage Manager - Desdemonda Chiang
Assistant Stage Manager - Beth Mack

Graphic Design - Brian Flemming

October 10, 2002 - February 22, 2003



Top: Dean Biasucci (Hal), Laurel Green (Sissy)
Mid: Nick Offerman (Chuck), Jane Taini (Joy), Matt Huhn (Brett)
Foreground: Darin Anthony (Jamie)



Matt Huhn (Brett), Darin Anthony (Jamie), Alicia Adams (Dory),
Dean Biasucci (Hal), and Beata Swiderska (Gia)


Beata Swiderska (Gia), Matt Huhn (Brett), Alicia Adams (Dory)
Darin Anthony (Jamie), and Dean Biasucci (Hal)



Laurel Green (Sissy), Nick Offerman (Chuck), and Jane Taini (Joy)
intervene on Matt Huhn (Brett)


Reviews

Los Angeles Times

"Depression is just reality trying to wake you up." This is one of numerous zingers dotting Justin Tanner’s Hot Property, playing the Evidence Room in repertory as part of the Edge of the World Festival. Writer-director Tanner’s first Los Angeles premiere in four years is generally hilarious and representative of its author’s distinctive voice.

Like many Tanner works, Property transpires in present-day Los Angeles, at the Beachwood Canyon apartment of protagonist Brett (Matt Huhn). As delineated by Jason Adams and Andy Daley’s expertly tacky poolside setting, many observers may register recognition before the play even begins.

The premise pits veteran 99-seat theater actor Brett against drugs, colleagues, the heartless Industry and, above all, his visiting family, yet another dysfunctional Tanner brood.

They include Brett’s born-again bully brother, Chuck (Nick Offerman), tactlessly optimistic sister, Sissy (longtime Tanner collaborator Laurel Green), and their smother-mother, the incongruously named Joy (Jayne Taini).

This cringe-worthy group tenuously supports Brett’s career, though only Sissy wants anyone’s autograph. Joy and Chuck are skeptical at best, their suspicions aroused by Brett’s cannabis-reeking kitchen, which disgorges playwright Jamie (Darin Anthony), his scary girlfriend, Dory (Alicia Adams), Brett’s agent, Hal (Dean Biasucci), and Slavic-accented Gia (Beata Swiderska). When Brett leaves for a Canadian TV-movie shoot, his friends stage a blowout as the Act 1 curtain falls.

Act 2 picks up post-shindig, with clean-and-sober Brett’s early return leading to confrontations, first with his cronies and then his family. The ensuing mayhem culminates in the arrival of Brett’s new amour, Diana (Mara Casey), an Industry hotshot with her own agenda.

Few writers can rival Tanner’s insight on this milieu, and his skill at authentic characterizations and invective remains matchless. The comments and name-dropping are virtually identical to any average night at Akbar, and the mid-Act 1 reading of Jamie’s terrible screenplay is sidesplitting. As for the family unit, here is Tanner’s satirical ethos in full facile bloom.

The ensemble is delirious, completely attuned to Tanner’s writing and each other. Offerman, his face contorted whether praying or braying, walks away with every scene. Taini’s Joy is hysterical, uttering lines like, "I always assumed all my children would be failures" with casually beatific venom. Green has negotiated these channels before, but Sissy feels newly minted, riotous in her Act 2 outburst.

The slackers are all spot-on, with Adams’ post-Goth dourness particularly apt, while Huhn’s struggle to assert himself amid all this is most endearing.

Casey invests her culture vulture with vivid detailing, although the character’s function in the denouement seems abrupt.

Here is the principal weakness in Tanner’s writing, one that his deliberately rushed direction shares. While his recycling of motifs (especially from Intervention) is adroit, the breakneck trajectory introduces multiple themes without fully developing them. This does not prevent Hot Property from scoring big-time laughs, but Tanner might take a page from Kaufman & Hart’s book and structure his next farce in the three-act form.

– David C. Nichols


LA Weekly

There are still piles of cocaine, but playwright-director Justin Tanner has razored the harder edges off Intervention, an earlier incarnation of this comedy. A dead plant replaces a dead pet. No longer does the protagonist watch the coke scene from Scarface on an endless loop. The downbeat ending is gone. Instead, Tanner has delivered a farce. Despite the more sitcom-y texture, the essential – and very amusing – plot remains unchanged: An actor gets plucked from small-theater obscurity to star in a B-list film on a location shoot. Away from L.A., he re-evaluates his life and chooses sobriety. Meanwhile, his coked-up agent and theater pals move into his apartment. Arriving a day early to find his pad a complete mess, he’s in the process of throwing out the uninvited guests when his family shows up to confront him about his drug use. Matt Huhn carries the show as Brett, the beleaguered actor with the coarse Orange County family. Nick Offerman is hilarious as his born-again Christian brother, as is Jayne Taini as the malevolent matriarch. Laurel Green offers strong support as Brett’s pathetic sister. Alicia Adams and Dean Biasucci are the standouts among Brett’s creepy Hollywood pals. The Beachwood Canyon party-lair atmosphere has been expertly captured by scenic designers Jason Adams and Andy Daley, and artfully lit by Rand Ryan

– Sandra Ross


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